Kevin Love immediately got to work after being honored for his efforts to destigmatize mental health

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Kevin Love
Credit: Jason Miller/Getty

Kevin Love isn't taking any breaks when it comes to mental health awareness.

Love committed $500,000 to UCLA's psychology department less than a day after he was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs for his work to destigmatize mental health issues, according to a press release.

The athlete committed $500,000 through his foundation, which was matched by a $500,000 UCLA Centennial Term Chair Match. It will create the Kevin Love Fund Centennial Chair in the psychology department, which will support the faculty's research into diagnosing, preventing, treating and destigmatizing anxiety and depression.

"I hope one day we are able to erase the stigma around anxiety and depression, and we can only do that by improving diagnosis and treatment, fostering public conversations about mental health and encouraging people to seek help when they need it," the Cleveland Cavaliers star told ESPN of Monday's announcement.

The 31-year-old — who played basketball for UCLA before he was chosen with the fifth pick in the 2008 NBA Draft — received national attention when he penned an emotional 2018 essay in the Players Tribune that revealed he had a panic attack during a game in 2017.

"When I got to the bench, I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath," he wrote at the time. "It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk."

The Child Mind Institute 2019 Change Maker Awards
Kevin Love

"I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set," Love continued. "I nodded, but I didn’t hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out. When I got up to walk out of the huddle, I knew I couldn’t reenter the game — like, literally couldn’t do it physically."

The episode inspired Love to attend to his mental wellbeing and to inspire others to do the same.

As the ESPY Awards on Sunday, Matthew McConaughey introduced Love via a video message and said the NBA star was "someone [who] looks themselves in the mirror, accepts that everything is not perfect, and finds the strength to say that out to the world."

Accepting the award, Love said, "Humbled does not even begin to describe the feeling. ...   I accept this award as both an honor and a challenge. A challenge to not only continue on my path, but to push beyond it, and to stay vocal, even when silence feels safer."

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"It is an absolute honor to receive this award and I am incredibly humbled by it," Love said in a statement issued to ESPN ahead of the ESPYs. "In telling my story, if I can help just one child that is suffering to make sense of what they are experiencing, I know my efforts have been worth it."

Other past winners of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage include Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Nelson Mandela, and Robin Roberts.