Sometimes there is more to life than what meets the eye. We often have to look past what we view individuals on the outside and search for who they are on the inside. Occasionally our sense of vision beholds us with something that is larger than life. At six feet eleven inches, two hundred and thirty-five pounds, it would be hard to not be in awe of a man by the name of Larry Sanders. Larry Sanders is most notably known as a professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. He has played center for them since 2010 when the club drafted him 15th overall out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Milwaukee needed a big man for their franchise and Sanders looked as if he was going to stand and deliver as blocking shots was his specialty. In 2012 he finished second in blocks per game in the league and also was close to winning the Most Improved Player award for that year. After this, Sanders was rewarded handsomely, signing a four year extension with the Bucks that was worth forty-four million dollars. Unfortunately for Sanders this success was short lived. The next season the Florida native was sidelined a majority of games due to injury with a string of bad luck. Fans were looking for a comeback year for the Bucks and their big man, but Sanders would have the final say.
Effective February 2015, Larry Sanders is no longer a current NBA player. Citing anxiety and depression disorders, the twenty-six year old has stepped away from the game and agreed to a contract buyout from the Milwaukee Bucks. This has left many fans in outrage and easy to slander the former Center, but what should be said instead is praise and encouragement for Sanders.
Before his contract buyout Sanders was admitted into a hospital to seek help for the daily strains and anxieties that he was living with. During this time is when he realized what is important to him and what life is really all about. This is where he made the decision to walk away from his career that secured him with fame and fortune. To him this fame and fortune was not worth the price of his basketball talents and he would rather explore different avenues in this journey of life. He is not just a larger than life man that plays basketball, instead he is much more than that. In an interview Sanders says that he is “a father, a writer, and a painter”, among other things, but what he fails to mention is that he is an inspiration.
Often in sports we visualize greats who can run at amazing speeds, or throw a ball a country mile. Sometimes we see individuals push themselves to the physical brink with no regard for human life. Rarely do we see people like Larry Sanders, those who the average public viewers can relate to and be vulnerable with. I for one am someone who relates to Larry Sanders. Majority of the days I wake up I have anxious thoughts. It’s been that way since I was a child and I’ve learned how to cope with it, while playing to my strengths. However, not every day is sunshine and happiness, as mental health is a serious issue. Living with anxiety and depression is not an easy task as both of those things are a daily reality. Embarrassment can come when you know you should be happy when you’re really not. Society tells you a handful of things and it usually follows under the concepts of “get over it” or “you’re really messed up”. So most of the time I smile and wave as I put on an act to seem like everything is okay while secretly feeling ashamed. Thanks to people like Sanders, I don’t feel ashamed to admit this anymore.
It takes a lot for an individual to admit there is something wrong and especially so being a public figure. Maybe it’s out of pride or maybe it is out of the pressure that comes with that admittance. For the man who wore number eight for the Milwaukee Bucks, that admittance must feel good right about now. Sanders should be applauded for his decision of walking away from the pressure that being a top paid athlete in the ever demanding world of professional sports burdens players with. He is a man who may impact many more with his words in this decision than he may have ever impacted while on the basketball court. He let people know that it’s alright to choose what you love over what others have chosen you to do.
In one of his latest interviews Sanders says he does love playing basketball, but that there is more to life than that grueling lifestyle in the NBA. That is something that can be applicable to all our lives. Higher education, a well-paying job, or lavish homes are all things that look to be desirable, but at what expense? This is why he chose to get help and looked for a way out of something that was no longer intriguing. This is the inspiration. A person who has publicly shown that it is alright to seek the help of others and try to live a happier and healthier lifestyle rather than toil in society under even more scrutiny.
Many will say Larry Sanders was a waste of a talent. Those who say that will be sadly mistaken. It could be true that Sanders best days of basketball will not be seen in arenas of thousands. He may never have the opportunity to play at such a high level again in his life. However, the talent that Sanders possesses is far beyond the basketball court. His decision and his actions are commendable to say the least and speak volumes to the man that he is. He stood and delivered blocking shots for the Milwaukee Bucks during his short career. Now he blocks out the negativity that comes with this world in the solace of his own home. We can look at Larry Sanders and understand that he is more than just a good basketball player, and that he is an even better human.