SMB’s Ross makes mental health a personal advocacy
Professional basketball players, like ordinary persons, also grapple with the same problems many deem reserved for non-athletes.
San Miguel Beer’s Chris Ross hopes to blot out the notion that they are immune from everyday issues.
“There’s 24 hours in a day and we’re spending that training with basketball for maybe five to six hours,” Ross said of a basketball player’s life.
“But the other 18 hours? You’re in life. Life’s real and life’s hard. It’s more than just basketball,” Ross said during the recent Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Player Orientation program.
The 31-year-old playmaker is currently using his voice to push for mental health awareness—a topic that many players have eluded talking about.
Ross was joined by former Alaska big man Tony dela Cruz in the event. The pair walked PBA players through the delicate matter and suggested ways on how to approach it.
“A lot of people see this as we are just basketball players, well a lot of people have families, a lot of people have businesses,” the playmaker said.
“I had two really close friends in the US … And then when I came back here, I had another close friend that actually took her life,” Ross revealed to reporters.
“So when you’re growing up, you kind of think that those kind of things will never affect you, that they’re never going to get close to you. But the longer you live and the more people you’re around, things like that do get to you,” he added.
Ross slowly stepped into the role of a poster boy for his advocacy when he sought for the PBA fans to “just go check on people” in a heart-felt post-game interview televised across the nation earlier this month.
Ross’ motivation comes from two friends who struggled in coping, and another who actually took his life.
Dela Cruz, on the other hand, had himself as an example.
“We’re men and we’re taught to be strong and to hold your feelings in and not to let your emotions out. Don’t get checked up for this, don’t get checked up for that, but life is tough for some people and you go through things. It is not easy for everyone,” he said.
“I made some really bad choices. I lost my wife, I lost my kids, I’m trying to keep up my life again. But I wished somebody would have talked to me early on as a player to say that if you’re hurting or if you’re going through something, you need to talk to somebody, we put some phone numbers up here,” Dela Cruz shared.
“I’m just one guy that has a voice. All it takes is one to reach out.”