For any basketball player, the NBA represents the ultimate dream. It’s the idea of playing in the best league in the world, alongside the best players in the world. But this world never made Tyrell Terry dream, and at 22, the former Mavericks point guard retired from sport. It was last December, and it was because of “anxiety disorders,” which he summed up in a post on Instagram in which he explained, “ to have lived through some of the darkest periods of my life. So much so that instead of building me, it began to destroy me. So much so that I began to despise myself and question my own worth”.
More than six months after these revelations and this choice to turn his back on professional basketball, Tyrell Terry has agreed to share his discomfort with the New York Times. This former Stanford star explains that it was the simple fact of playing basketball that hurt him. To try to get out of his depressive spiral, he had joined a friend who plays in Germany last winter, and he had taken part in training with the Würzburg team.
“Those feelings of enjoying basketball haven’t returned. And it was on the other side of the world” he remembers. It was then, in tears, that he announced to his relatives and friends that he was going to draw a line under his career: “This message was very difficult to share and very moving to write”.
Breaks with his natural father and his spiritual father
Seven months later, Tyrell Terry is working on a new “chapter of his life”. He returned home to Minneapolis, with his girlfriend, but also to the Stanford campus. Above all, he tries to do a lot of work on the broken ties with his father, himself a former very good basketball player.
“I want to be able to completely get rid of this part of me” launches the former leader of Dallas, before evoking the divorce of his parents when he was four years old. “I understood very early that if I hadn’t been born, it would probably have been much easier for my parents. Maybe my dad would have broken into basketball, and it wouldn’t have been so hard for my mom to finish school. »
This feeling of guilt gnaws at him, like the fact of having the feeling of having betrayed Jalen Suggs, the current back of the Magic, originally like him from Minnesota. Pre-teen, Tyrell Terry was very close to the Suggs family, and the two future NBA players become best friends. But at 14, Tyrell Terry leaves them for DeLaSalle High School without telling them, when they had considered going to the same university!
For Larry Suggs, the father, but also the coach of the team, “It was like losing a son.” For Jalen Suggs, it’s also a test. “Everything I had known, I had always done with him. It was hard. It was different. I didn’t quite understand or want to accept it, and to be honest, at first there was a bit of resentment.
Terry can’t stand the constraints of professional basketball
The two former friends continue their careers, each on their side. It will be Stanford for Tyrell Terry, and Gonzaga for Jalen Suggs. In the famous Californian university, Tyrell Terry impresses. We thought he was a pure playmaker, and we discovered that he had the qualities of a shooter. His rating climbed over the months, and after only one season, he decided to register in the Draft!
“I don’t think I was emotionally ready to go to the NBA” he acknowledges. “I wanted to stay a kid, and continue to play with my friends. But I don’t regret my decision. »
Tyrell Terry then finds himself embarked on the world of professional basketball, and its requirements. He who weighs only 75 kilos learns that he will have to build muscle and gain weight. This is the beginning of his disgust for basketball, but he doesn’t know it yet. Selected in 31st position by the Mavericks, and as the world tries to best manage the Covid epidemic, Tyrell Terry finds himself delivered “to himself in Dallas. Even if he admits that he left training very quickly, no veteran takes him under his wing.
Result: after a stint in the G-League, he asks to speak with the head of the Psychology department of the Mavericks. Tyrell Terry tells him: “I can’t do this anymore. I do not like it. It gives me panic attacks.”
The Mavericks allow him to leave the group, the doctor prescribes him anti-depressants, but the trust is broken when the psychologist asks him for a timing for a return to training. His mother joins him in Dallas to try to understand and help him. Tyrell Terry finds the right metaphor to make him understand his mental state: “If I was a garbage man and I told you that I don’t like my job, what would you say to me? Apart from money, what is the difference? »
“I would say that I failed in the NBA. I accept it. I had the talent, but that’s not what motivates me, that’s not what makes me happy.”
The Covid epidemic in ebb, the NBA resumes its usual rhythm, but the recovery, in the fall of 2021, does not change anything. The Mavericks then agree to cut it. A few months later, he gave himself a new chance by accepting a “two-way contract” with the Grizzlies, to play mainly in the G-League with the Hustle.
Even if he finds a better atmosphere there, among young people, he does not manage to get used to this permanent competition. Around him, everyone is playing to get a place in the NBA, and that creates tension.
Like the Mavericks, the Grizzlies separate from it, and after this test in Germany, Tryell Terry therefore chooses to turn his back on basketball. Her priority is to find answers to her anxieties and mental problems. He will have to force himself to renew contact with those he has disappointed or ignored. “I didn’t have the courage to have a discussion with certain people”, acknowledges Tyrell Terry, who has not responded to messages from friends and former coaches. “Now that I’m better, it’s hard to get these people to understand that it was nothing personal but that I was in such bad shape that, frankly, I felt good in my solitude. »
Among these people, there will necessarily be his father. He hasn’t spoken to his son for years, and he took his son’s text announcing his retirement in the face. He feels guilty for his son’s decisions.
“I admire my dad so much that I think if he had been in my life while I was in the NBA, he could have told me what to do to overcome this ordeal”concludes Tyrell Terry. “I had succeeded. I had done everything my parents wanted me to do. I was admitted to Stanford. I was rich, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I knew then that I was doing it, in large part, for them. And then my father didn’t even come anymore… Whether it was my fault or not, whether it was due to my mental health or not, I would say that I failed in the NBA. I accept it. I had the talent, but that’s not what motivates me, that’s not what makes me happy. »