NBA player and OCD sufferer Royce White may play in February


Royce White, an NBA player who famously suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks and a fear of flying, has finally reached an agreement with the Houston Rockets which should get him back in uniform and on the court.

Suspended earlier this month, may play next month

The No. 16 pick in the 2012 NBA draft has yet to play for the Rockets. He stopped attending Rockets games and practices in November and was formally suspended two months later in January.

The Houston Chronicle reported that White and the team are close to an agreement that would end the stalemate over the treatment of his mental health problems and allow the rookie to rejoin the team.

Team doctor will make the call on White’s ability to play

The agreement reportedly includes a protocol to govern his mental health treatment and allow him to play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ D-League affiliate in about three weeks. White would return to the team under a written agreement that includes key elements of the protocols White wanted as an addendum to his contract.

One element was not agreed upon, however. White had wanted an independent doctor to assess his mental health and determine whether or not he was fit to play. The Rockets refused but apparently have agreed to let their own team doctor make that determination.

White not willing to risk his health for the game

In an interview on HBO’s Real Sport with Bryant Gumbel, White said, “If I was an NBA player now without the protocols and safety measures, I would be risking my health, risking my life. What comes along with mental health if left untreated? Alcohol abuse, marijuana abuse, suicidal behavior, homicidal behavior — those are things I’m not willing to risk to play basketball, to have money, to have fame. That’s it.”

Could be a win for both sides and mental illness advocates

Both sides are willing to acknowledge that this has been a learning experience. It seems that White overestimated his ability to adapt to the demands on an NBA player, while the Rockets underestimated White’s mental illness.

It benefits both sides and the advocates of mental health care that they have finally come to an agreement that seems mutually agreeable while supporting White’s illness.

Sources:, Houston Chronicle, HBO

Photo by John Nyboer

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