LeBron James may no longer be teammates with Kevin Love, but he'll always have his back

By Dave Quinn
August 17, 2018 11:02 AM
Andy Lyons/Getty

LeBron James may no longer be teammates with Kevin Love, but he’ll always have his back.

Back in March, Love penned a moving essay about his battle with anxiety, one that inspired a string of male athletes and stars to come forward with their own mental health struggles.

The move was met with public support from then-Cleveland Cavaliers player James, which meant a lot to Love.

“It was a special moment for me,” Love, 29, recalled to Today‘s Carson Daly, in a teaser clip on Friday of a sit-down about the subject set to air in full, Monday. “We sat towards the end of the bus. He kind of said, ‘Hey, do you have a moment?’ He stopped me, shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘You helped a lot of people today. It’s important.’ ”

That was super powerful for me,” Love added, of James’ words. “Not only is he the best athlete in the world, the best basketball player in the world, but his influence and having my back with that was super important to me.”

Daly, 45, was one of the people Love inspired to open up about his own issues with anxiety and panic attacks.

Looking back on my life, I was a worrywart kid. I was always worrying,” he said on Today in March. “My father died when I was five. I had an ulcer when I was in high school. I’ve been nervous my whole life. My very first panic attack happened — and, by the way, I had no idea what it was at the time — when I was a host at MTV. The success of my career, I flew to New York, and my life changed overnight. I had a hard time breathing. I was terrified for no apparent reason.”

You feel like you’re dying” Daly explained. “In fact, I went to the hospital. I’ve got leads [for heart monitoring] on my chest, and I’m like, my heart is going to stop, or I’m going to have a heart attack, and of course you’re perfectly fine.”

Twenty years later, Daly still has it — on and off camera. “To this day, whenever I’m on television… I’m never still,” he said on Today. “Some days I’m just a little anxious. And you’ll see me, you’ll be able to tell. I’m fidgeting. People think, they hear anxiety, anxiety, high-pressure life, you’re on television. It’s nothing to do with that. I’ve had heightened anxiety and mild panic attacks at the playground with my own children and wife there, and the feeling was so terrifying and so gripping that I literally had to leave and excuse myself.”

Kevin Love

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In Love’s essay, published by The Players’ Tribune, he revealed that he had his first anxiety attack in November — during a game against the Hawks.

“I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath. 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… I was freaking out,” he recalled.

“It was like my body was trying to say to me, ‘You’re about to die,’ ” he added. “I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe.”

Since then, Love wrote in The Players’ Tribune that he’s been seeing a therapist and is working to understand more how to treat his anxiety. Talking about it openly has helped.

“Everyone is going through something that we can’t see,” he wrote. “No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need.”

“So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through. Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me.”