Kevin Love is ‘One of Those Guys’ Practicing Meditation for Anxiety

Kevin Love isn’t just a star forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. To many, Love is one of the poster children when it comes to living with mental health issues as a professional athlete. Love, along with San Antonio Spur DeMar DeRozan, were among the first athletes to be public about their struggles with anxiety and mental health. Recently, Love spoke about how he copes with his mental health issues. 

Kevin Love standing on the basketball court
Kevin Love | Jason Miller/Getty Images

Kevin Love’s Timberwolves career

Kevin Love first jumped onto the national stage when he was playing alongside Russell Westbrook as a UCLA Bruin. From there, he became a lottery pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves. There, Love was the face of the franchise for most of his six-season tenure. Love had the size of a center, but the jump shot of a shooting guard in a time when shooting big men was still a rarity. 

One thing that Love didn’t have, however, was a winning team. The Timberwolves were struggling to find a winning identity in the years after Kevin Garnett left for Boston, and while Love was an All-Star, the team was struggling to find any wins. By 2015, the relationship between the two was toxic, and Love wanted out. 

A change of scenery

With LeBron James recently announcing his move to Cleveland, the Timberwolves traded Love for the number one overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins, in a package that would put him next to James and Kyrie Irving. This immediately changed Love from the best player on the bad team to the third-best player on a championship contender. 

Love’s Cavaliers went to the NBA Finals alongside James for four straight years to start his tenure there. Although Love missed the first Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors, he was a vital contributor to the Cavaliers 2016 victory. Following James’ departure in 2018, however, Love is back to being a key contributor on a bad team, although his numbers are still quite impressive at nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists. 

Kevin Love on mental health

On March 6, 2018, Love posted an essay on The Players’ Tribune about something he experienced during a game that past November. Love was struggling to remain focused on the game. His heart was racing and he couldn’t. By the time the game started, he was having a full-on panic attack. He didn’t know what was happening until the doctors figured out that’s what it was.

He didn’t take to immediately revealing this, however. In the essay, he spoke about his attempts to stifle any talk about his mental health. 

“Call it a stigma or call it fear or insecurity — you can call it a number of things — but what I was worried about wasn’t just my own inner struggles but how difficult it was to talk about them,” Love wrote (per The Players’ Tribune). “I didn’t want people to perceive me as somehow less reliable as a teammate, and it all went back to the playbook I’d learned growing up.”

He eventually realized the importance of going public, however, and by March he was telling the world about his issues. Since then, Love has been an ally for the mental health community. 

What does Kevin Love do to relieve stress? 

In a 2019 interview with GQ, Love spoke about what it is like living with his mental health issues since he went public with them. Rather than make that his only manifesto about the subject, Love has tried to spread the word that it’s OK to struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. He advocates for therapy and talking to one’s friends and family to cope as well as eating well and living healthy. 

“You feel better, you look better, you’re thankful to yourself,” Love said. “That’s a micro gain that helps ease anxiety. I think sleep is a key component too. I also meditate now.”

Love laughed off the notions that he’s “one of those guys” and also noted that this was his own, personal way of coping with his mental health issues. He stresses that those with mental health should find what is best for then, seek out therapy, and do what they need to do to be at peace. While Love has had a memorable career on the court, off it, he might just be one of the most important figures in the modern era of sports.