Bravery Beyond The Basketball Court

Chamique Washington, Credit WNBA

Former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw opens up about her struggles with mental illness in a new documentary.

Chamique Holdsclaw seemingly had it all—incredible basketball skills and height, an affable personality and easy going spirit, and a habit of winning championships.

During her time at Christ The King High School in Queens, NY, she helped her team win four straight New York State Championship.

Under legendary coach Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee, she led her team to an unprecedented three straight NCAA Championships in a row from 1996 to 1998. She was at the top of the women’s basketball world, and heralded as the next big talent that would transform the WNBA.

The pressure and expectation was too much to bear, and instead of Holdsclaw changing the women’s game—the game changed her.

Holdsclaw began to struggle off the court, and her demons of the past eventually caught up with her. Throughout her entire life, she hid behind the basketball and her charismatic smile.

Underneath it all, Holdsclaw was locked in a continuous game of tug o’ war with her emotional and mental health. While her teammates, coaches, friends and the public at large speculated about her behavior—taking extended periods of time away from basketball, getting involved in off-the-court incidents—Holdsclaw kept everything bottled up like a tightly kept secret. It wasn’t until she was arrested for aggravated assault against her ex-girlfriend that she finally decided to seek professional help and guidance for her mental illness.

Since Holdsclaw retired from the WNBA for good in 2010, the 38-year-old has used her voice and time to act as a mental health advocate. She openly discusses why athletes fear admitting they have mental health issues and what they can do to seek help.

Mind/Game not only provides a gripping character study of a female athlete who refuses to give up, but also gives those living with mental illness and their families the inspiration and courage to navigate their own journeys,” says Taj Paxton, Executive Producer of Logo Documentary Films, which spotlights LGBT people in heroic situations.

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