View Full Version : Jerry West has lifelong depression

10-16-2011, 01:05 AM

Jerry West says he has battled depression since childhood, when his father would beat the future Hall of Famer, causing low self-esteem that has plagued him despite a successful career as one of the NBA’s biggest influences.

West says his West Virginia childhood was devoid of love and filled with anger as a result of his abusive father, who left him feeling tormented and worthless.

“I would go to bed feeling like I didn’t even want to live,” West says in a segment airing Tuesday on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

“I’ve been so low sometimes and when everyone else would be so high because I didn’t like myself.”

West’s memoir, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,” is in stores Wednesday. It’s a book his wife, Karen, their four sons and his four siblings didn’t want him to write.

In the HBO interview, West describes his father beating him with a belt, saying, “It was brutal.”

He says he never knew what would set his father off. It wasn’t until his father hit his sister that West found the courage to stand up to the man that had abused him. At 12, West kept a shotgun under his bed and threatened to use it on his father if the abuse didn’t end.

When West’s father died of a heart attack, he attended the funeral. He cries in the interview as he talks about wondering whether his father would be proud of him and his achievements.

West says his depression never bothered him as a player during 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers because he was so driven by a fear of failure. However, once the season ended, he would dwell on the defeats, including the Lakers’ six NBA finals losses to the Boston Celtics.

“He wouldn’t speak for days at a time … It worried me,” Karen West says, adding that “Jerry doesn’t say `I love you.’… Maybe once a year.”

West tells HBO he tried therapy, but gave it up, preferring to take Prozac and work through his depression by himself. He says his condition has eased in the 10 years since he served as Lakers general manager. He now works as an adviser to the Golden State Warriors.

“I’m the luckiest person in the world,” he says.

10-16-2011, 01:28 AM
Wow, I didn't know about this, good article. Be careful when you say "I want to be like this guy", because you don't know what that person is going through.

10-16-2011, 01:46 AM
Much Respect... I lost my father when I was young but I cant imagine what it would have been like to never have had him in my life or for him to be a negative role model instead of a positive one.

I cant understand how anyone could hit something innocent and pure like a child though.
Definitely gotta have some serious issues to do ish like that.

10-16-2011, 04:50 AM
What a nice article

It's articles like this that makes you appreciate life a bit more

10-16-2011, 06:17 AM
I been saying it you never know what a person could have going on...that he has money so he should be happy every damn day is way off base. With money and fame you have to watch every word you say and who you talk to and family memebers always have the hand out...these people are human we seem to forget that. Im in the army and i sometimes struggle with it for different reasons but its real.

10-16-2011, 07:02 AM
makes what he's been able to accomplish that much more impressive.

10-16-2011, 07:41 AM

10-16-2011, 08:27 AM
You can achieve anything when driven by fear. Good or Bad. Props to West for using his fear for good. I'm glad he is telling his story.

10-16-2011, 11:01 AM
Brave man to admit this. Kudos to West

10-16-2011, 12:39 PM
nice read

10-16-2011, 12:52 PM
I'm trying to figure out how the last sentence, "I'm the luckiest man in the world", ties together with the rest of the piece.

Shame for Jerry that he deals with his childhood throughout his life to such a degree despite legendary success and presumably the absence of drugs?

Good for him for writing about it though. Maybe it will give hope to some down and out kids who are dealing with a similar situation. I wonder if he ever sought counseling. Stories like that always intrigue me.

10-16-2011, 01:02 PM
wow after all this time it still brings him to tears...slept with a shotgun under his bed at 12..jesus thats insane,much love for him speaking out on this it will help some ppl who can relate,GREAT story unrelated to the lockout I got a lil chocked up reading this,life is hard sometimes

10-16-2011, 01:30 PM
It takes a lot of courage to be able come out and share this difficult experience with others. Such a great person.

10-17-2011, 02:44 AM
What a *****.

10-17-2011, 02:50 AM
Never realized this was news, hes always come off as a down trodden man to me, the way he would take losses so personally, the way how he found negatives in his game even in victory. I didnt think he had full blown depression but Im not surprised at all.

PS West is going to be in LA somewhere in a few weeks if anyone is looking to see the legend in person.

The Final Boss
10-17-2011, 03:18 AM
I have even more of an appreciation for West after reading this piece. The Lakers have had the top 2 best SG ever, don their colors.

10-17-2011, 09:36 PM
I have even more of an appreciation for West after reading this piece. The Lakers have had the top 2 best SG ever, don their colors.

when did Michael Jordan play for the Lakers?