Life After Basketball: Former NBA player shares mental health journey
Retired NBA player Jumaine Jones had a real conversation with meet and greet attendees.
Jones said growing up with basketball was his only escape from reality.
“Basketball saved my life. When I retired in 2015, I went into a deep depression because my coping method was gone,” Jones said, during a recent Valdosta visit.
The NBA transition program assisted Jones in finding a purpose in the community without basketball, where he found his passion for the community.
“Helping with the Philadelphia 76ers youth program gave me the opportunity to talk with children that were like me, but I realized many were going back to broken homes,” Jones said. “That is the moment that I decided to give back to the community as a whole. We cannot develop healthy youth without healthy families.”
An organic partnership between Jones’ organization, Beyond The Hardwood Organization, and A.C. Braswell of HOOPS Athletics Organization sponsors several sports and mental health events to catapult real and needed conversations with youth and adults about mental wellness.
Michael Smith, chief executive officer and president of Greater Valdosta United Way, said, “It is OK to not be OK. The United Way provides mental health resources … in South Georgia, though they are few, we are here to help.”
Jones and Braswell have an upcoming symposium and youth sports camp scheduled for June 24-25 to make a positive impact on the community.
The youth camp will feature former players such as Lamar Odom and Dennis Scott, they said.
Jones said his goal is to bring more resources to South Georgia.