Naomi Osaka, Hip Hop and mental health
Last Monday, the coldest tennis player in the game, Naomi Osaka, withdrew from the French Open. Yes, you heard it right: the French Open. But, citing concerns about her own mental health, Osaka later revealed that she made the best decision for herself, avoiding the opportunity to add another Grand Slam title to her growing collection to be one of the GOATS of all time.
Osaka is no stranger to grabbing the big bags in sports and easily one of the most famous tennis players, male or female. Before withdrawing entirely from the French Open, Osaka had made it known that he would not participate in regularly scheduled press conferences during the tournament. The decision to retire came after a head butt between the star and tennis officials, as the trauma at the time became too stressful for the young star to handle.
“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I retire so that everyone can get back to concentrating on the tennis that takes place in Paris,” Osaka said in an Instagram post.
His initial decision not to speak to reporters amplified the issue. However, it is not the star’s fault. Instead, the watching public and traditional sports media often feel empowered to have access to every moment of an athlete’s life; after all, this is a great commercial and cultural event. Such access includes before and after games and believing in the athlete’s responsibility to participate in social media during these events for more promotion and content that feeds the insatiable appetite of sports fans globally.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my moment was not ideal and that my message could have been clearer,” he added. “The truth is, I have suffered long bouts of depression since the 2018 US Open, and it has taken me a long time to cope.”
Osaka, a future theme of ESPN’s black history forever, a series that chronicles the heroes of black sports culture, is receiving support from brands and sponsors and other public figures of popular culture and Hip Hop.
“Hey, Naomi. You are right. You are wrong! I’m with you, ”Will Smith, the iconic actor and rapper, shared in an Instagram post.
“Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience, ”Nike said in a statement. Levi’s, GoDaddy, Beats Electronics, and more echoed similar statements.
Osaka isn’t the only athlete to reveal a battle with his mental health while performing on the world stage. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has become an advocate for mental health, especially in sports. A couple of years ago, Love boldly brought his mental health challenges to the public’s attention and was supported by it too.
Love was a guest on HBO and Bron Bron’s The Shop in 2019, and said he “hit the lowest point of my life” during the 2017-18 season. Around that time ESPN‘s Jackie MacMullan asked him about some rumors he was having trouble with, and he said that he initially got angry and tried to keep it to himself. However, he later decided that he did not want anyone else to tell his story for him.
Love’s remarks would open the door for then-Toronto Raptors point guard DeMar DeRozan to also express his battles with depression, anxiety and loneliness.
“It’s one of those things that no matter how indestructible we seem, we’re all human at the end of the day,” DeRozan said. “We all have feelings. . . all of that. Sometimes. . . gets the best of you, where the whole world is on top of you. “
In a Toronto Star report, DeRozan would reveal how depression took hold of him and spread to social media.
Mental health trauma has also affected members of the Hip-Hop community, for example, 20-year-old Dallas rapper Lil Loaded, whose real name, Dashawn Maurice Robertson, hit the music scene in 2019 and passed away. last week. The rising talent wrote a letter to the “higher one” before his death and his mother revealed that he had recently suffered a serious breakup. Was the reported loss of a baby too great a trauma to bear the additional components of the fight for mental health?
Lil Loaded is just a case of mental health problems in Hip-Hop that are often alleviated by self-medication.
What can those of us do to promote positive mental health? The path begins inside. Maintaining your own mental health and seeking education on ways to positively influence others is helpful. Connect with a therapist here.
But what about our public celebrities and sports figures? The immediate solution is not to pressure them to be an open book at all times. Respecting occasional downtime is a reasonable and cool thing to do. But also support their initiatives to promote mental wellness, like the new Big Sean series that you launched with your mother during Mental Health Awareness Month.
“I feel like Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to talk to my mom about some of the things I’ve learned from her that have helped me along the way, and I hope they help others,” Sean said of the Serie.
So no matter how much we tune in to a game or listen to our favorite music release, we must be prepared to support the mental health of these people. In fact, most superheroes also need to register and take the time to preserve their sanity and peace of mind.
This post is a sponsored partnership with ESPN +. For more stories on mental health in sports, visit the Black History Always Collection on The U on ESPN +.