A few weeks ago, Grantland’s YouTube Channel broadcasted a wonderful documentary detailing former Iowa State University standout Royce White’s crippling anxiety issues – something that nearly derailed his entire basketball career before it even got started.
Though his fear of flying and other day-to-day anxiety-inducers always intrude into his life, it didn’t stop him from being one of the best players in the country last year and flying to road games. But his anxiety has hardly disappeared, and it’s now affecting his NBA career with Houston. White skipped media day on Monday and didn’t report to training camp yesterday because of what team personnel referred to as “personal matters.”
“The Rockets announced that rookie forward Royce White is not with the club in McAllen for training camp because of ‘personal matters.’ […]
He told FOX 26 Sports the personal matters are related to the fact that he suffers from anxiety issues.
‘We are trying to figure out a plan for me to be healthy and successful long-term,’ White said. ‘It’s not really anything that’s going on right now. It’s more of trying to take a pro-active approach and trying to put together a solid plan.
‘It is definitely linked with my anxiety sure, but it’s not so much as far as my anxiety now. Basically what happened was my doctor, we discussed it, and it was decided the way the plan was now just wasn’t logistically healthy.
‘So what can we do strategically to try and improve the chances of everybody being successful in this situation, my success and the Rockets success? If I fail then that’s not good for them either, because it’s an investment.'”
White, to his credit, has been exceedingly open about the issue, disclosing his condition to every team in pre-draft interviews and even going public with the video from Grantland. The Rockets, to their credit, have taken this issue in stride as GM Daryl Morey said this in response to White’s absence:
““We are committed to Royce’s long term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward.”
The Rockets would not have committed a first round draft pick to White if they did not have the fullest confidence in his ability to overcome his personal issues. Although “overcome” might not be the right word – “manage” seems more precise. Because as White has acknowledged, he has to work with himself and doctors to keep his anxiety under control, knowing that it will continue to be a recurring issue. It seemed to work during his final year of college when he dominated at Iowa State, and for somebody of such immense skills and straightforward character, it’s rather easy to understand why the Rockets would take a chance on him. And if there’s any rookie we’ll be rooting for, it’s Royce White.
Photo via Getty