In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, 22-year-old big man Jahlil Okafor opened up about his struggles with depression and anxiety, explaining that he was in a “dark place” but has since sought help:
“I didn’t know I was dealing with depression and anxiety myself. When I was in Brooklyn after the Philly trade, I started to talk to somebody there. That was the first I heard about it. Then, during the season, I didn’t act on it. I was in a dark place, man. I didn’t act on what was told to me, and I ignored it and shut it down.
“A week before the season ended, I looked at myself in the mirror and knew I not only had to get my body right but my mind right. I went straight to Miami and changed my diet and worked out. But most importantly, I started talking to a therapist to help me get through the depression and anxiety that I was going through, and it’s something I’m still dealing with. But I’m coping with it a lot better, and I’m learning ways to continue to feel good.”
The former No. 3 overall pick signed with the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason and is looking forward to helping the squad win:
“I wanted to be a part of this team, this winning program. It was a perfect fit for me, and I couldn’t be happier that I’m here. The amount of excitement that I have being here in New Orleans and being with this organization, being with a winning organization. We talk about winning a championship, competing for a championship, and hearing those words in training camp is new for me. My entire basketball career, I’ve been a winner. I can’t wait to win again.”