By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Watching his father die at a very young age has been a part of Nicolas Batum throughout his life and in his basketball career.
His father Henry died of an aneurysm at 31. He collapsed playing professional basketball and was at the free throw line with two-and-a-half years old Nicolas watching from the stands along with his mother. When he became a father himself, he struggled to overcome the fear of dying, as he explained to the French television channel Canal+.
“The truth is that it was complicated for me to even play,” he went into details, “When my father died, I was two and a half years old. So, until my son was three years old, I went through a difficult period. Just being able to play was a challenge.”
“I was under the impression I was not going to return. I was convinced the same would happen to me and that I was going to leave my family,” he added, “I asked my wife to not come to the games because I did want to see them in the stands.”
“Mentally, it was very very very hard for me,” he explained, “Those were the rough seasons in Charlotte. Because that was actually part of the whole thing. I admit I was crying before games thinking I won’t be back home.”
Preparing for the NBA draft, he was diagnosed with a heart issue in tests performed by the Toronto Raptors medical staff. He was eventually cleared and selected 25th overall in the 2008 draft. But required to share the medical history of his family, he was once again confronted with the death of his father.
“It was horrible because I had to relive minute by minute the doctor saying what happened and his diagnosis,” he recalled the experience and the additional NBA connection to the trauma stemming from an unfairly early stage of his life.
Batum, 33, switched from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Charlotte Hornets in 2015. At the conclusion of the five-year stint, he publicly apologized for the poor run without revealing his mental health issues. From there, he signed with the Los Clippers and inked a two-year contract extension this summer.
The emotional interview (French):
Photo Credit: Getty Images