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Lake Oswego grad turned NBA All-Star, Kevin Love, pens struggle with mental health

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love watches from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. Love disclosed in an essay for the Players’ Tribune on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, that he suffered a panic attack on Nov. 5 in a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. He was briefly hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic and the episode left him shaken. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

If you're struggling with mental illness, you're among great company.

The latest disclosure comes from Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love. The NBA player with Lake Oswego roots opened up in an essay for the Players' Tribune about his struggle with anxiety. He says that he had a panic attack during a game this season and he has spent most of his life afraid to accept there was something wrong with him.

"For 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else's problem," Love wrote.

He says he was stricken with anxiety Nov. 5 during a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. He attributes it to the amount of family stress he was under and the lack of sleep. During the game he said he felt his heart racing and couldn't catch his breath during a timeout in the third quarter.

He admits it took him a long time to admit he needed help.

"Professional athletes have an image and they want to portray that being strong, being skilled, being competent, being a winner," said Dr. Sandy Ramirez, a psychologist in Portland.

Showing anything otherwise is seen as a sign of weakness in the sports world, a stigma Love hopes to break.

He says he mustered up the courage to go public with his issues after Toronto All-Star Demar Derozan opened up about his bouts of depression.

Love is already receiving an outpouring of support.

"Seeing that he came out and said that and was brave enough to do that, then I think a lot of people would be inspired to do that themselves," said 12-year-old Theo Soergel.

Even teammate LeBron James praised him.

Love hopes by speaking out, it'll take power away from the stigma.

"Everyone is going through something that we can’t see...Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need. So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through," Love wrote.

He says he's grateful for the love and support and encourages people to email him their stories at kevin@playerstribune.com.

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