Love described having his first panic attack to Men’s Health.
Kevin Love is the five-time All-Star forward of the Cleveland Cavaliers who helped lead the team in winning a 2016 NBA championship. Since suffering a panic attack during a game, Love has also been an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.
Love can remember the exact date he had his panic attack, November 5, 2017, right after halftime during a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He told Men’s Health, “I couldn’t catch my breath. I was sticking my hand down my throat, trying to clear my air passage. I thought I was having a heart attack and ended up unconscious on the floor of our head trainer’s office.”
At one point, Love thought “this could be it,” that he was actually dying, but then he also became terrified that his teammates would think he was “not reliable,” and he kept his anxiety attack a secret.
As Love recalled to The Player’s Tribune, his panic attack “came out of nowhere. I’d never had one before. I didn’t even know if they were real. But it was real—as real as a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed.”
Love said that when he was younger, “You figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act… It’s like a playbook: Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own. So for 29 years of my life, I followed that playbook. These values about men and toughness are so ordinary that they’re everywhere… and invisible at the same time, surrounding us like air or water. They’re a lot like depression or anxiety in that way.”
Love has since learned to face his anxiety through therapy, spending time with his dog, taking medication and practicing meditation. He has also launched The Kevin Love Fund, a charity that works in tandem with the Movember Foundation and Just Keep Livin.
“These superheroes that we look at, whether it be somebody in the entertainment industry or an athlete, we also have these layers that we deal with on a daily basis. Know that you’re not alone. You’re not different. You’re not weird. And we can do this stuff together,” said Love.