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Promising basketball player quits game at the age of 22 to prioritize his mental health

As he quits the game to prioritize himself, Terry said that he is excited to see what the world has to offer him next.

Promising basketball player quits game at the age of 22 to prioritize his mental health
Cover Image Source: Tyrell Terry #1 of the Dallas Mavericks passes against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 9, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Mental health care is a crucial part of the well-being of any individual. However, it is not given enough importance—especially in the field of sports. Athletes often struggle mentally and are still required to continue playing and advancing in their careers. However, a 22-year-old basketball player is changing this narrative by deciding to retire and focus on his mental health. Tyrell Terry, who was drafted 31st overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2020 NBA Draft, announced on Instagram that he is stepping away from the game for good. 



Terry's farewell message reads: "This message is a very difficult one to share and an emotional one to write. Today I decided to let go of the game that has formed a large part of my identity. Something that has guided my path since I took my first steps." However, he stated, while the game gave him "amazing accomplishments, created unforgettable memories," his basketball career was also filled with "the darkest times of my life." He added that he began to "despise and question" his value which led him to "intrusive thoughts, waking up nauseous and finding myself struggling to take normal breaths because of the rock that would sit on my chest that seemed to weigh more than I could carry." 


Opening up about experiencing intense anxiety, Terry wrote: "This is just a brief description of the anxiety this sport has caused me, and while I’m grateful for every door it has opened for me, I can't continue this fight any longer for something I have fallen out of love with." He added that although his decision to quit basketball might be seen by some as a "bust, a failure or a waste of talent," he believes that "it is the biggest failures in life that lead to the greatest success."


He concluded his message by writing: "There is more for me out in this vast world and I am extremely excited to be able to explore that. And for the first time, to be able to find my identity outside of being a basketball player. I am eternally grateful to those who have believed in me and apologize to those that I have let down. But I'm headed down a different path now, one that will hopefully lead to happiness and being able to love myself again."

Sharing Terry's message in a Twitter thread, his agent Daniel Poneman highlighted the struggles faced by the young man and his bravery to speak about his experience. He shared that when Terry was "picked 31st in the NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks" and signed a $6 million contract, they "celebrated like brothers." Poneman commended Terry's bravery by calling it "beautiful." He added: "His courage to share his story with the world is powerful & inspiring. The life of a pro athlete isn't for everyone. And being an NBA player—the money, fame, attention, and competition doesn't guarantee fulfillment."


He further shared that Terry suffered from severe anxiety throughout his two-year NBA career. "I was there alongside him, watching him try and try again," Poneman wrote, adding that Terry went in for practice just after having crippling anxiety attacks and played in games when "his heart was in another place, going through the motions." Terry struggled on as he did not want to disappoint the ones who "lived vicariously through him, even when his heart kept telling him he was going in the wrong direction," his agent revealed. "Now, he has the courage to live for himself. Everyone has their dharma, and your job as a human is to live yours."



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