Back in 2007, Britney Spears was considered a joke for shaving her head in the middle of the night. Just like with Spears, former basketball player Delonte West’s bizarre behavior made him a laughingstock. Instead of expressing concern for his mental health, people found it easier to point and laugh. More people need to see the signs of mental illness and talk about it instead of turning their heads away in laughter or disgust.

Why was Delonte West Mocked by the Public?

More than ten years ago, West revealed that he was struggling with bipolar disorder. He has since been the source of mockery on Twitter and in the tabloids. In September 2009, West was arrested during a traffic stop for carrying three guns while riding a motorcycle. The National Public Radio responded, “Delonte West of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers is apparently serious about his role as a shooting guard. Too serious.” There were also rumors that West slept with LeBron James’ mother. Woke Bill Simmons inducted West into his “Tyson Zone” for crazy athletes . Since then, many publications have ranked West in their lists of “craziest players”. No one bothered to ask why West’s behavior was continuing. It was easier for everyone else to label him “crazy.”

How was the Seriousness of Delonte West’s Bipolar Disorder Exposed?

In January, a video surfaced of West getting beaten on the streets of Washington, D.C. In a second video, West is looking deranged on the sidewalk and rambling incoherently after the beating. Suddenly, people recognized that West needed help. Many people in the sports world expressed concern, including his former coach from St. Joseph’s, Phil Martelli, and college backcourt mate, Jameer Nelson. Former basketball player Royce White even shared his own struggles with mental health issues. White expressed the importance of openly expressing mental health concerns instead of waiting until celebrities are in crisis. 

Now, West has disappeared from the public eye, aside from occasional photos of him panhandling outside of a fast-food restaurant. Clearly, the conversation around mental health is changing. It is a rule in the NBA for at least one mental health professional to be on staff. People may not have been ready to understand West’s mental illness at the time. Fortunately, more people now recognize the importance of adequate psychiatric care.

Located in Georgetown, Texas, Alta Loma is a transformative living center to help those struggling in early recovery to transition out of our Psychiatric and Substance Abuse inpatient center. Alta Loma believes that addiction is born from an untreated mental illness in which our facility is willing to help you. Our facility offers residency, medication management education, individualized treatment, life skills education, 12-step support, and more tools to bring patients the confidence to be able to live an independent life. For more information, please call us at 866-457-3843.


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