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NBA

Why did John Wall think about killing himself?

Point guard John Wall, who will begin to play for the Los Angeles Clippers, recounts the personal hell he’s been through over the last 30 months.

Update:
Point guard John Wall, who will begin to play for the Los Angeles Clippers, recounts the personal hell he's been through over the last 30 months.
USA TODAY Sports

A new stage begins for John Wall who went through a hellish nightmare of injuries and ostracism during his stay with the Houston Rockets. He has signed with the Los Angeles Clippers to relaunch a career in which he has known both the best and the worst sides of being a professional sports star.

The point guard, who will turn 32 next week, secured the contract by activating his player option for the 2022-23 season: $47.4 million on behalf of the Houston Rockets, the team with which he did not play last season despite earning $44.3 million, one of the highest salaries in NBA history.

Rockets favored young blood in rebuild

The Rockets wanted to work with young players in a major rebuild, giving command of the outside game to Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. The team agreed with Wall to search for a way out and for the point guard to be sidelined in the meantime. But since there was no transfer option given such a gigantic salary, Wall spent the entire season without playing.

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After securing his $47.4 million, he reached a buyout deal with the Rockets, forgave about 7 million and committed himself for a similar amount (about 6.5 million) already as a free agent, to the Los Angeles Clippers. Thus ended a stage in the Rockets that began as a trade for Russell Westbrook (one monster contract for another) before the start of the 2020-21 season. In it, and after a blank year due to an Achilles tendon injury, Wall played 40 games and averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists.

Wall will now play for a Clippers team that will be one of the big favorites to win the ring if their two big stars, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, stay healthy.

John Wall’s promising start

Wall was the number one pick overall in the 2010 NBA draft (Washington Wizards), and a superstar in Kentucky. He had a tremendous first stage when he began his NBA career: he made the All-Star team five times in consecutive years from 2014-2018 and earned a seat at the Third Best Quintet in the League in 2017 after his best season (2016-17): 23.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 10, 7 assists.

His Wizards reached the second round of the playoffs and only lost in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics. It seemed that his future in the capital was bright. Wall signed a four-year, $170 million extension that seemed perfectly logical at the time but turned out to be one of the worst contracts in NBA history.

He suffered serious knee and Achilles tendon injuries, personal problems and played in only 73 total games in his last three seasons in Washington.

Now, Wall has spoken with absolute sincerity and frankness about the last 30 months of his life, an ordeal in sports but above all in family matters.

John Wall’s dark days

“It’s the darkest place I’ve ever been. At one point I even thought about killing myself. I broke my Achilles, my mother got sick and then passed away and a year later my grandmother died. This in the middle of the COVID pandemic, with everything that was going on. Going to chemo sessions and seeing my mother exhale her last breath, lying next to her on the couch with the same clothes on for three days,” he said.

Despite his dark thoughts, he found a way to make it through, and he was not afraid to ask for help.

“If I’ve been able to get through this, I can get through anything in life. That the fans continue to support me, that they want to continue watching me play, means a lot to me. I had to seek help, therapy. Many people think that they don’t need support, that they can get out of things whenever they want. But you have to be honest with yourself and find out what you really need. And that’s what I did.”

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