Michael Sweetney Says He Attempted Suicide During Rookie Season with Knicks

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2017

New York Knicks forward Michael Sweetney (50) pulls down a rebound in front of Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace during the third quarter at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
CARLOS OSORIO/Associated Press

Former New York Knicks first-round draft pick Michael Sweetney told Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype on Monday that he attempted suicide during his rookie season in the NBA.

Sweetney said to Kennedy that he was depressed and mourning the death of his father prior to training camp in 2003, and it contributed to the incident: "I remember the night. We were in Cleveland one night and I just took a bunch of pain pills, hoping it would take me out. But I woke up the next morning thinking, 'Well, it didn't work.' That's how bad it was."

Sweetney said he worried about how he would be perceived if he openly discussed his depression:

"I didn't like basketball and I just didn't like life at the time. I went from being a star at Georgetown and having my father at every game to losing him and not even playing in the NBA. I knew I wasn't going to be given a chance as a rookie because my coach told me, 'Hey, I'm not going to play you.' I had a lot of things going on that were rough for me to handle. I had dug myself into a really deep depression and, at that point, I was really scared to tell anybody. At that time, you had a guy like Ron Artest and people would just say, 'He's crazy.' In reality, he just had some issues that could be resolved. But people were quick to call him crazy, and I was suffering from something similar, so I didn't want to tell anyone. Even after I tried to commit suicide, nobody really knew. I was suffering really bad. I was in New York, battling this while the media was writing articles about me, and I felt like I had nowhere to go. I just kept digging myself into a deeper hole of depression."

The Knicks selected Sweetney with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, and he never came close to replicating what he accomplished at Georgetown.

Sweetney averaged 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in two seasons with the Knicks before spending two years with the Chicago Bulls.

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Though he hasn't played in the NBA since 2007, Sweetney has played professionally overseas and is now part of 3's Company in Ice Cube's BIG3 3-on-3 basketball league.

Per Kennedy, Sweetney speaks at schools about suicide prevention and how to cope with depression.