How Grant Williams of Celtics used his wealth of experience to teach beginners about mental health

In the 2022 NBA playoffs, Grant Williams made headlines like a meme arrow, but his trajectory suggests he must stay in power. long before Boston Celtics The striker played the starring role in a game 7 against Milwaukee BucksHe has established himself as one of the most reliable supporting characters in the league. He arrived at training camp leaner and lighter on his feet, yet strong enough to hold his ground against the two giants. Throughout the regular season, when the ball found him in the ocean, he hit it with improved conviction and accuracy.

in Stories about him rise ofWilliams pointing to To the variety From Factors. Based on conversations with Celtics president Brad Stevens and coach Im Odoka, Williams knew exactly what his team needed from him. Hire a chef and go to work, watch movies and do side speed drills.

In July, Williams, speaking to a room full of young players on the Rookie Transition Program in Las Vegas, said something else had gone into it: his work with a mental health professional.

Williams reached out to performance coach Ross Rauch, who founded the mental training company Vision Pursue, through Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzula. Encourage beginners to make a similar investment, especially if they are not comfortable talking to someone who is affiliated with their team.

“Mental health is probably the most important thing in the league, more than your physical health,” Williams said in an interview. Not right. “He specifically wanted to give credit to Rauch for helping him with confidence.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) launched its Mental Health Initiative in 2018 and submitted an RTP committee on the topic in 2021. “One of the core tenets of Mind Health is to try to reframe a conversation about mental health as a connected conversation,” said Jamila Weidmann, M.D. Head of League for Player Development Discussions of stress, anxiety, and illness should be balanced with discussions of “wellness and proactive activities.”

The league wanted Williams to be on the committee because of a talk he gave weeks ago in New York. The afternoon of the NBA draft, he and Indiana Pacers Guard Therese Halliburton spoke to the Green Room invitees. Williams said he tried to calm their nerves, prepare them for the evening and give them an idea of ​​how their lives were about to change. He noted that success brings with it its own challenges. When your name is in the news for entering with Draymond Green in the NBA Finals, you need strategies to stay on the same page.

While Williams is the epitome of a man with positive vibes, he talks about the tough parts of adjusting to NBA life so realistically. “You are always alone,” he said. “You’re not ready for that, usually.” After rehearsing, team members go back to their homes and families instead of hanging around the dorm. “There will be times in the league when you feel like you’re against the world.”

For a mental health program that Weidmann said aims to “break out of this dichotomy of being either sick or healthy,” Williams is a perfect advocate. Weidmann described him as an “incredible storyteller” with a sense of humor and a willingness to be vulnerable.

Twice in Vegas – RTP split the junior class into two groups, so every session had to be repeated – the 23-year-old Williams walked through the highs and lows of his three years with the Celtics. Six weeks later, he was shooting zero for 25 from a 3-point range, at which point he was thinking “how would my career rock up, if I was as good at shooting as I thought,” Williams said. He did his best to stay positive, playing an important role in the playoffs, only to find himself in and out of rotation the following year, after the brilliance of a promising junior season faded.

“You get death threats from fans and all that other stuff,” Williams said. “This is hard to come by.”

Williams told the starters that he saw “these same people change their mindset” in year three, and that staying in the league was very much about being “mentally strong enough to get better,” he said. Conflicts and depression are inevitable. Putting them straight is a skill.

“You see how it ended,” he said. “Not every story is like mine. But to be able to say you got out the other side is great.”

Some players may take therapy and meditate. Others may find performance training helpful. Williams said he told players in Vegas that they might have to try different things to see what makes them happy and confident.

“He doesn’t walk into the room and present as a person or I think he wants to be seen as someone who has all the answers,” Weidmann said. “Grant is the first to ask the men questions when he gets in there. He’s the first to bring them up and invite them into what feels like a conversation.”

“Williams raised his hand very clearly as a leader,” Weidman said three years ago, when he was in the junior boot. Not everyone will be as you share With NBA and NBPA programs like Williams. Not everyone will go Go to a mental health podcast and talk about how to light a candle before you meditate. During the hearing, Williams said he wasn’t always proactive about his mental health. When he disconnects, he said, it “makes it worse.”

Williams remembers telling the starters that “there are a lot of guys here who are very anxious right now and would never admit it.” If and when they are ready, he will be happy to continue the conversation.

“I try to make myself the most available or available teammate in the league,” Williams said. So I always say, ‘Do you want my number? Like, come after the meeting, you can call me anytime. “It’s one of those things, and we all go through it at some point.”