Love is all around when it comes to fac­ing his demons

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Sports -

CLEVE­LAND — Kevin Love couldn’t re­mem­ber be­ing so clean shaven, glid­ing his fin­gers over his smooth cheeks and chin while look­ing in a large mir­ror.

he re­flec­tion pain him anymore.

From the out­side, the Cleve­land Cava­liers’ All-Star for­ward ap­pears to have it all: A model’s strik­ing looks, a multi-mil­lion dol­lar con­tract and a dream job.

At 30, he’s in the prime of his ca­reer, and maybe for the first time, truly happy.

“I’m get­ting there,” he said, his voice con­vey­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion. “It’s still a work in progress.”

Nearly a year ago, Love suf­fered a panic at­tack dur­ing a game against At­lanta. The des­per­ate, life-al­ter­ing event even­tu­ally led to re­veal­ing his long-term bat­tle with anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

Now Love is hop­ing to break down stig­mas about men’s men­tal health, part­ner­ing with Shick Hy­dro on a web­site series called “Locker Room Talk” to host can­did con­ver­sa­tions with Olympic swim­ming icon Michael Phelps, for­mer Bos­ton Celtics star Paul Pierce and Cavs team­mate and close friend Chan­ning Frye.

No topic is off lim­its.

The show de­buts with Love and Phelps next month, coin­cid­ing with fundrais­ing ef­forts for the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion, which pro­motes men grow­ing mous­taches dur­ing the month to raise aware­ness for prostate can­cer, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer and sui­cide.

Love re­cently filmed the sit-down talks with Phelps, Pierce and Frye while his Cavs pre­pared to open their first sea­son in five years with­out su­per­star LeBron James, who signed with Los An­ge­les this sum­mer.

While Love knows his 11th year as a pro will be chal­leng­ing, his fo­cus was on the series, which he views as an im­por­tant step in his per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to­ward a broader plat­form for more men­tal health ini­tia­tives.

Love’s dis­cus­sions with the three ath­letes cover a wide range of top­ics, in­clud­ing “mas­culin­ity, trau­matic events, women and their roles in our lives, thoughts of sui­cide, anx­i­ety. Ev­ery­thing.”

“We’re chang­ing the par­a­digm of locker room talk where it’s not just about sports anymore,” he said. “It’s life.”

In their talks with Love, Phelps and Pierce open up about their past strug­gles with men­tal health. Frye brings a per­spec­tive of cop­ing with loss and tragedy fol­low­ing the deaths of his par­ents within weeks of each other in 2016.

Love hopes the frank dis­cus­sions will move peo­ple to seek help and maybe en­cour­age them to ad­dress their prob­lems.

It took a dis­tress­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Love to take the first steps in his jour­ney.

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