BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics may not have known it, but when they acquired Marcus Morris, the veteran big man was contemplating quitting the sport of basketball altogether.
As Morris detailed in a story with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, he had dealt with quite a bit in his life. From growing up amid gang violence in Philadelphia, to a rocky start in his NBA career, to getting traded away from his twin brother, Morris was struggling with anxiety and depression. It was something he said he kept inside, until the Celtics introduced him and his teammates to a doctor that would end up changing his life.
“[Morris] discovered that both GM Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens were incredibly open about encouraging players to seek help with their mental health struggles. They introduced him to psychologist Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, whose husband, Tommy Amaker, coached the Harvard basketball team just up the street,” MacMullan wrote.
Morris told MacMullan that while he did sit in on a mandatory session led by Dr. Pinder-Amaker, he was initially resistant to addressing his own issues. It was after a second visit from Dr. Pinder-Amaker that he finally decided to make the call.
“She has helped me so much,” Morris told MacMullan. “It may sound silly, but just closing my eyes in a dark room and breathing for 10 minutes a day helps me. I know lots of guys who are dealing with some kind of anxiety and depression — not knowing if they have a job next season, not knowing if they’re going to get traded. It’s so stressful. Everyone is pulling at you. They want your time, your money, a piece of your fame. If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you. Talking to Stephanie released so much of that stress for me.”
MacMullan wrote that “seeing a mental health therapist has made Marcus a calmer, happier, more productive member of the NBA family. He knows the gang members hanging on the stoop near Erie Avenue would scoff at him, deride him for being ‘soft,’ but he no longer cares.”
After the Celtics lost in Game 7 of the conference finals this past May, Morris said that he’s unsure of his future with the team. But regardless of his professional location, it’s clear that after his one season with the Celtics, Morris is in a much better place.