Depression is not a laughing matter: What we can take from Robin Williams

The video above features Kevin Briggs, a retired California Highway Patrol Officer who spent 23 years monitoring the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Since its opening in 1937, 1,600 people have leapt to their death from the bridge. Officer Briggs has responded to hundreds of mental illness and suicide calls on the bridge and lost only two. Trained by psychologists, he lists the following as signs of suicide:

  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Belief that things are terrible and never going to get better
  • Belief that there is nothing you can do about it
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in life

In the talk, he speaks of a man who paced the bridge in March of 2005. After one and a half hours of conversation, the man chose life. When Briggs asked why he made the decision to come back he responded, “You listened. You let me speak, and you just listened.” That was all it took. The overall message of the talk parallels the Golden Gate Bridge to the interpersonal connections- or bridges- we make in life. No matter who we are or how unimportant we may be, we can all strive to make the bridge.

Over the weekend I got to see Kemba Walker, someone I hold in the highest regard- not for his athletic achievements but rather his tireless work ethic and way he handles himself. Although he had posed for hundreds of pictures that day, and was enjoying his only downtime of a busy weekend, he happily agreed to take a picture with me. In the tenth of a second it took to click the camera button, I had a memory I will take with me for life. That was all it took. I am Kemba Walker to someone. You are Kemba Walker to someone. It may be a sibling, friend, teammate, co-worker- it doesn’t matter. You can make a difference and it only takes a split second. Yes, it may make you uncomfortable at first but not nearly as uncomfortable as a life spent battling depression. The lifelong regret of what you could have done is far worse than momentary discomfort.

Robin Williams was a wildly successful Academy Award winning actor and comedian.  Too often in life success is measured by status- how much money we make, what kind of car we drive and how big our house is. But what if we measured success in a different way?

To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one’s self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
And sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived…
This is to have succeeded. 

If you are funny, make people laugh. If you have a nice smile, smile at people. If you have money, give to people who don’t. But most importantly, listen. We can all do that.

As we are reminded by Williams’ passing, depression can affect anyone at anytime- from those who have nothing to those who seemingly have it all. It is our job as friends and family to act before depression reaches hopelessness. If you or someone you know is battling depression, visit this website. Suicide is quick, suicide is easy, but above all, suicide is preventable.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

RIP 3/13/14


Rudy Gay replaces Kevin Durant on Team USA Roster

Getty Images

Getty Images

Over the weekend it was announced Rudy Gay will replace Kevin Durant as the 16th member on the 2014 USA National Team roster. Gay will compete against Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Korver and Demar DeRozan for a chance to represent Team USA at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain later this month. Gay’s addition gives UConn two players vying for a chance to represent our country, with Andre Drummond as the second. UConn joins Duke (Kyrie Irving, Mason Plumlee) and Kentucky (DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis) as the only college programs with two potential representatives. This is not Gay’s first stint with Team USA- he averaged 7 points off the bench for the 2010 World Championship team and was one of the last cuts made off the 2012 Olympic team. Team USA will have a training camp in Chicago August 14-16 to determine which 12 players make the final roster. Here is a look at the statistics of Gay compared to his competitors:

Gay 73 34.7 20 .46 .33 6 2.9 1.3 0.8
Parsons 74 37.6 16.6 .47 .37 5.5 4.0 1.2 0.4
Hayward 77 36.4 16.2 .41 .30 5.1 5.2 1.4 0.5
Korver 71 33.9 12.0 .48 .47 4.0 2.9 1.0 0.3
DeRozan 79 38.2 22.7 .43 .31 4.3 4.0 1.1 0.4


UConn stars return for 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic

7,000+ crowded Mohegan Sun Arena Friday night for the 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic. Featuring heroes of UConn past, the game is more than just a UConn All-Star game, but raises money and awareness for the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center. According to their website, the charity is dedicated to “research on new non-invasive techniques to diagnose and treat patients at risk for heart disease and also endows a cardiology research fellowship.” Since 1999 the Celebrity Classic has raised over $6.5 million for cardiology research. You can learn more here and like the event on Facebook.

Jim Calhoun watches his charity game.

Jim Calhoun watches his charity game.

Friday’s game featured current NBA players Andre Drummond, Ray Allen, Kemba Walker, Jeff Adrien, Ben Gordon, Jeremy Lamb and Charlie Villanueva as well as former stars Taliek Brown, Khalid El-Amin and Donyell Marshall. The White Team came away with a dramatic 114-112 victory on an all-but-too-familiar game winner from ’99 Champ El-Amin. Drummond led a stacked White Team with 24 points/12 rebounds while Walker (21 points), DeAndre Daniels (18), Allen (15) and El-Amin (13) all scored in double figures. Villanueva led the Blue Team dropping 24 points with Rashad Anderson (22), Lamb (21 points/8 rebounds) providing help in the scoring department and Jeff Adrien (12/13) handling the dirty work as usual. Lamb was originally on the White Team roster but crossed sides after Rudy Gay was was deemed ineligible due to language in his contract with the Sacramento Kings. It should be noted that although Gay was unable to participate in the game, he is rumored to have dropped $80,000 on a private plane to sit on the bench and support the cause. Caron Butler and Shabazz Napier were not in attendance due to prior commitments.

Pictures below:

Ray Allen Pregame

Ray Allen Pregame

Tip Off

Tip off at the 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic.

Andre Drummond rises for a dunk at the 2014 Jim Calhoun Charity Classic.

Andre Drummond rises for a dunk at the 2014 Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic.

Rudy Gay poses for a selfie with Jeremy Lamb.

Rudy Gay poses for a selfie with Jeremy Lamb.

After party with Kemba Walker

After party with Kemba Walker

Deandre Daniels Officially Heading to Europe

Getty Images

Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors have come to terms with former Celtics 2013 first round pick Lucas Nogueira. Great news for Nogueira, bad news for Deandre Daniels. The Nogueira signing fills the Raptors roster, confirming rumors Daniels will be shipped overseas next season- though the Raptors will keep his rights. The team is currently in the process of finding the best fit for Daniels overseas, presumably a situation where he can get minutes immediately and continue to develop. More to come…

UCONN 2011 First Night Dunk Contest

I recently found videos I took from quite possibly the most epic dunk contest in the history of UCONN First Night (more commonly known as Midnight Madness). This particular contest featured a semifinal matchup between hyper-athletic big man Andre Drummond and bouncy guard Ryan Boatright. Both Drummond and Boatright made it difficult for the judges- consisting of Kemba Walker, Hasheem Thabeet, Ray Allen and ESPN’s Doris Burke- to announce a winner with a flurry of impressive dunks that I was lucky enough to catch on camera directly behind the basket.

#12 Andre Drummond

#11 Ryan Boatright

The judges ultimately awarded the honor to Boatright for his dunk over the seated Napier. Were they right?