CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW TALKS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH BECAUSE SHE NEEDS TO

Before their game on January 14, the Northwestern women’s basketball team wore special warm-up uniforms to pay tribute to their late teammate, Jordan Hankins. According to the AP, the Wildcats huddled at center court after beating Indiana, 80-67, as hundreds of other Northwestern athletes stood with them in the gym. Hankins, a 19-year-old sophomore, had died by suicide less than a week earlier. News about her death was greeted with shock and sadness by many in the basketball community.

“It broke my heart when I read about it,” said retired WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw. Though she didn’t know Hankins personally, Holdsclaw understands the sort of overwhelming pressures that go hand-in-hand with playing Division I basketball—especially when it comes to mental health. Like many young adults in college, she struggled with depression, and like many she kept it mostly to herself. “When I was reading the story, I thought about [Hankins] as more than an athlete but also as a student, and what her family life was like, and how the people around her say they saw no signs. I used to be like a professional master at hiding it. I wanted everyone—my grandmother, my friends, and my coaches—to think that everything was OK, even when it wasn’t.”

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