Time is running out for Royce White, and that's a terrible thing.
White, who has courageously staged a public battle against his anxiety disorder in an attempt to not only bring much-needed attention to his condition—but to all mental illness in general—should be applauded for his efforts.
In recent weeks, he's taken to Twitter to state his case.
Ppl with mental illness SHOULD be drafted, and not only should this industry, but every industry, should equip itself. 1/4 ppl in the world— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 15, 2012
He's dead-on with that statement.
Whether you are aware of it or not, we all know someone—we all care about someone—who has battled some form of mental illness.
Royce White wants those who don't battle this insidious disease—which comes in many shapes and sizes and cares not about gender, race or religion—to understand.
"Them," of course, refers to his current employer, the Houston Rockets, to the NBA.
It comes as no surprise to the Rockets that White's battle with his anxiety was an ongoing one, yet they still saw fit to make him the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
To their credit, Houston has seemingly done everything in their power to help White.
He has a fear of flying—per Yahoo! Sports, the team made arrangements for him to take a bus to some games this season.
White himself says that the latest issues between he and the team have nothing to do with flying:
Last Thing: This is not about FLYING, travel plan is solid. This is about setting PROTOCOL and a willingness 2 become educated. #AllProgress— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 17, 2012
The team has arranged for therapy sessions for White.
Yet White doesn't believe that the Rockets have done enough (h/t Yahoo! Sports).
In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder - due to the current situations at hand that involve the nature of actions from the Houston Rockets. As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.
He's blown off practices to the point where the team has decided to start fining him; not only for missed practices, but for missed therapy sessions as well (h/t ESPN).
That doesn't help anyone—and it certainly doesn't help his cause.
Houston has never changed its stance on White. "We are committed to his long-term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward," the last statement that the team issued on the subject read, per ESPN.
Of the millions of people White referenced who battle mental illness on a daily basis, how many have the support of an organization like the Rockets and all of the tools they can give him to overcome his illness?
Very, very few.
But you can bet your life that the vast majority would trade places with White and take full advantage of the opportunities and tools that his job provides.
The cold, hard truth of it all—as unfair and harsh as this may sound—is that at some point, Royce White becomes more trouble than he's worth.
While his cause is just and his fight noble, Royce White is in danger of going from inspiration to irrelevant.
No matter how talented he is, no NBA team is going to give him another chance if he doesn't start to get with the program in Houston.
The Harlem Globetrotters have reached out and offered White a chance to join them on the road, should his NBA career not blossom as everyone hopes that it will (h/t ESPN).
Maybe that's the best place for White, away from the spotlight of the NBA.
But the Globetrotters can't help White see his dream come to fruition, only the Rockets can:
NBA might be a dream come true, but being UNHEALTHY isn't, people will know I stood up for myself and what's right. #NeverABadTime— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 16, 2012
Nobody's asking Royce White to be unhealthy; in fact, the Rockets seem to be doing everything in their power to help him.
Maybe they aren't.
I don't sit here pretending to understand exactly what White is going through, because I don't.
But make no mistake about it. Mental illness can be overcome.
It's not easy, and for many it's a battle that will be waged for the rest of their lives, but it can be done.
Without a doubt, this certainly won't lead to victory:
I'm not PLANNING to quit, but if its between my HEALTH and BASKETBALL, health takes precedence. You should never choose ANYTHING over it.— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 16, 2012
What he's doing now isn't working, but there's still time to change his approach.
Instead of focusing his time and energy on fighting those who are trying to help him, he needs to focus that time and energy on battling what threatens to rob him of his dream and millions of a much needed voice to bring attention to their plight.
Houston has given him the weapons that he needs to emerge victorious in this fight.
It's up to him to stop explaining why he can't succeed, and showing people how he will.
Anything less would be letting the disease that he so desperately wants to shine a light on win.
That would be a tragic end to this tale.
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