Cavs' Kevin Love Discusses Importance of Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2020

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love controls the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, a longtime advocate for the importance of mental health, has opened up about the difficult experiences many people could be feeling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, Love explained that what's currently happening around the world is "really scary...you don't have to suffer through it alone."

Love also discussed how he puts as much "vigor" on his mental health as his physical well-being:

"My life is dramatically different. I have a lot more clarity about where I'm headed and where we're headed as a society in terms of removing the stigma from mental health issues. We still treat mental illness so differently from a physical illness. If you had a heart condition, you'd see a doctor and you'd take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Why should it be any different with mental health?"

Since the NBA season was suspended March 11, Love has done work to help frontline workers and families in need. He announced a $100,000 donation through his charity foundation to support arena workers and support staff at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

Love told Lane Florsheim of the Wall Street Journal in April that he's been able to prioritize his mental health during the pandemic by "staying super active" and doing something "as simple as making my bed."

The Cavs were one of the first teams to reopen their practice facilities May 8, allowing players in for voluntary workouts under strict, NBA-mandated social distancing rules.

Love was among the Cleveland players who participated on the first day back, telling ESPN's Dave McMenamin that even an abbreviated, controlled workout "was pretty uplifting" because "I feel like anybody who needs an escape or in everyday life is looking for any type of normalcy back doing something they love."

The first time Love publicly opened up about his struggles with mental health issues was in a March 2018 article for The Players' Tribune, when he wrote about having a panic attack during a game earlier that season against the Atlanta Hawks.

"It came out of nowhere," he wrote. "I'd never had one before. I didn't even know if they were real. But it was real—as real as a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed."

Afterward, Love started the Kevin Love Fund, with a focus on advocating for mental health awareness.

Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.