Shawn Bradley Says He's Had Suicidal Thoughts Since Being Paralyzed in Bike Accident
Shawn Bradley is opening up about the aftermath of the bike accident that left him paralyzed, one year later.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated published Wednesday, the 49-year-old former NBA center — who spent 12 seasons in the league — discussed the challenges of his life now, after being hit by a car while riding a bicycle near his home in St. George, Utah, in Jan. 2021.
"I don't know how I can ease the burden of me," Bradley told SI while discussing his family's new role as his caretakers. He continued, "Maybe it'd be better if this was just all over. Yes, those thoughts creep in and they're real. I can't ever imagine myself acting on those thoughts, but I definitely have them."
Bradley was biking in his neighborhood when a driver of a Dodge minivan (who Bradley declined to name and wasn't charged with a crime) bumped him from behind. His bike got caught on a nearby parked car, and threw him off, with the former athlete leading head first on the ground.
He was hospitalized for weeks and diagnosed as a quadriplegic, losing movement from the top of his rib cage down. He's since regained some function in his lower arms. The Dallas Mavericks, his former team, previously revealed that Bradley had neck fusion surgery before beginning rehabilitation.
The former athlete, one of the tallest players in NBA history at 7-foot, 6-inches, has made it through the tragedy with the help of his family, he says in the interview. He has been married to Carrie Cannon since 2018 and adopted her three children, Haylie, Dubbie, and Max. (The outlet notes that he is estranged from his first wife and their six children.)
Cannon's new caretaker responsibilities are many, and sometimes include cleaning up Bradley's bowel movements and a difficult shower process. They've been seeing a therapist together, and separately, to deal with their new normal.
"I didn't ask her to do this," said Bradley. "This isn't what 'in sickness and in health' typically means."
Cannon noted that sometimes people forget "it's not just the person that's involved in the accident" that's affected. She explained, "It's a domino effect. Our family has been forever changed."
Bradley said while he, Cannon, and their family have had time to adjust in the wake of the accident, it's always challenging to see friends that haven't interacted with him in person since his paralyzation.
"People that I'm very close with, the first time they see me, it's emotional," Bradley said. "It's extremely draining."
Bradley also told SI that the most difficult part of those reunions is "remembering what once was ... and knowing it'll never be the same.
Despite the daunting challenges he's facing, Bradley is also focused on creating change. He told the outlet that he wants to help spread awareness about the importance of bike safety.
Bradley was drafted out of Brigham Young University in 1993, going as the number two pick in the draft to the Philadelphia 76ers. He joined the Mavericks in 1997, and spent the majority of his career with the Texas franchise.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.