NBA All-Star Kevin Love honored for mental health advocacy

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Kevin Love

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love smiles after a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Miami. Love, a five-time NBA All-Star, is being honored by a Boston foundation for his work on and off the court to take the stigma out of mental health struggles. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

BOSTON (AP) — Kevin Love knows the euphoria of sinking a three-pointer just before the buzzer. But the five-time NBA All-Star has had plenty of lows to offset those highs.

“There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed. That’s just the truth,” the Cleveland Cavaliers power forward wrote in 2018 about his lifelong struggles with depression and low self-worth.

On Thursday, the Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation honored Love with its annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion for his work both on and off the court to remove the stigma around mental illness.

“Love has repeatedly taken steps to eradicate the mental health stigma by sharing stories of his struggles with depression, anxiety, and other challenges,” the foundation said in a statement. He has also established the Kevin Love Fund, with an ambitious goal of helping more than 1 billion people over a five-year period.

Last year, his fund teamed up with the University of California, Los Angeles, and established the Kevin Love Fund Chair in UCLA’s psychology department to diagnose, prevent, treat and destigmatize anxiety and depression.

Love, 33, won an NBA championship with the Cavaliers in 2016 and was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 London Olympics.

He’s repeatedly taken steps to eradicate the mental health stigma by sharing stories of his struggles with depression, anxiety and other challenges. In a 2018 essay for The Players’ Tribune, he revealed that he had been seeing a therapist for several months following a panic attack during a game earlier that year.

The struggle continues: In April, Love apologized for an on-court tantrum during a game against the Toronto Raptors.

“When I first spoke out about my mental health struggles, it transformed my life,” Love said Thursday.

“Over the past few years, athletes around the world have shown us incredible courage by shining a light on the mental health toll that comes with extreme pressure. In doing so, they helped kick-start a cultural shift around mental wellness,” he said.

Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said Love was chosen for his “instrumental role in destigmatizing mental health and bringing this long-overdue conversation out in the open.”

“He has served as a high-profile role model for countless people facing mental health challenges, who can now use his courage and determination as a guiding light,” Ruderman said.

The award, now in its eighth year, was named after Morton E. Ruderman, a founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Past recipients include Academy Award-nominated actor Taraji P. Henson, filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Olympian Michael Phelps, Oscar-winning actor Marlee Matlin, and former U.S. senator and Americans with Disability Act architect Tom Harkin.

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