Brittney Griner Faced Relentless Bullying as a Teenager That Led to Severe Depression

If society has learned anything from the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s that anyone can struggle with mental health. Even Michelle Obama admitted to being depressed during lockdown. Celebrities and sports stars may seem to have it all, but mental health doesn’t pick and choose victims based on their talent or financial status. Even the most talented people can become victims of mental health issues. 

Brittney Griner smiling on a basketball court
Brittney Griner | Michael Hickey/Getty Images

According to USA Basketball, superstar Brittney Griner is no exception. She’s a force to be reckoned with now, but extreme bullying led her to severe depression as a teenager. 

Things didn’t start out great for Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner 

Things have worked out well for Griner, but she had her struggles. In middle school, she was bullied relentlessly. According to USA Basketball, Griner says she was bullied for her appearance, including her height. Griner had no outlet at that time and wasn’t comfortable talking to her family about what she was going through. She began to contemplate suicide. 

Griner also acted out negatively. With no outlet for the extreme anger she felt, Griner often got in trouble at school and home.

“I used to get in trouble because I would act out in school, but my parents didn’t know why. They just thought I was being bad. So I would get in trouble. I would act out. All the wrong ways of doing it. So that’s why I share things that I did that were wrong.”

Brittney Griner coped with her depression through writing and sports 

Without an adult to help her understand her feelings, Griner was left to develop her own coping mechanisms. She dove into writing, although she never shared her work. Griner told USA Basketball that,

“It was just a bad time, and I wouldn’t talk to anybody about it either. I didn’t talk to my parents. I didn’t talk to my siblings. I didn’t have a lot of friends back then. I had a couple, but I didn’t talk to them about it either. I used to write, but I would always destroy my writing. I would either burn it or I would just rip it up and throw it away so nobody could see it, because I didn’t want anybody to read what I was writing.”

Griner also discovered sports. It turns out, the very thing she was getting bullied for turned into an asset on the court. But Griner didn’t start with basketball. First, Griner played soccer and volleyball. In sports, she found another way to release the anger building inside her. Finally, in ninth grade, Griner discovered basketball. The rest is history.

Brittney Griner is one of the highest paid WNBA players 

Despite her troubled beginnings, Griner has gone on to have a stellar career. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Griner is worth around $5 million. At least part of that figure is thanks to her WNBA salary. Griner joined the league in 2013, as a first-round draft pick for Phoenix. The very next year, she led her team to a championship win. 

Griner makes the maximum amount allowed by the WNBA, which is $227,000 a year. That means she’s one of the highest-paid players in the league. Although the WNBA maxed out her salary, Griner has other options for additional income. She often takes jobs overseas, for large chunks of change. She played for just three months in China and took home $600,000.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.

How to get help: In the U.S. and Canada, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to reach a crisis counselor for support. 

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