Categories
SGV Tribune

Lakers’ Dion Waiters opens up about depression, edibles incident

In a ‘Players Tribune’ piece, the guard, who signed with the Lakers on March 6, took responsibility for ‘the plane incident’ as a member of the Miami Heat: ‘It’s on me. I own that.’

Dion Waiters signed with the Lakers on March 6, hoping to revive his stalled career – only to have the NBA season to stall out March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, the 28-year-old guard took a step forward Monday evening, opening up about past struggles with an entry on “The Players’ Tribune.”

His was the first installment in a series called “24,” in which athletes “honor the legacy of Kobe Bryant by sharing 24 truths that have shaped their life.”

Waiters, a Philadelphia native, arrived in L.A. after having played just three games this season for the Miami Heat, who suspended him three times for team rules violations before trading him to the Memphis Grizzlies, who cut him.

Coach Frank Vogel said in March that the former No. 4 overall draft pick and career 13.2 points-per-game scorer seemed like “a guy ready to move past” issues he’s had this season. “We’re aware of his journey,” Vogel said then. “And we believe he’s somebody who can help us.”

Waiters wrote about those trials in “The Players’ Tribune” piece, describing his experiences with depression and addressing “the plane incident in Miami” in November, when he ingested a cannabis-infused edible on a team flight, resulting in a much-publicized medical incident (but not a seizure, Waiters wrote) and, subsequently, a 10-game suspension.

“It’s on me. I own that. It was idiotic on my behalf – point-blank, period,” he wrote. “What’s crazy is, my whole life I been a leader. I’m not a follower. Pat (Riley) knows me. He knows I don’t do drugs. But sometimes when you’re going through dark times, you can fall trap to things you’d never do in your right mind.”

Waiters wrote that his 6-year-old son – “six going on damn near 30” – held him to account for that incident: “He’s on Google all day, typing my name. So when I got suspended, he was interrogating me like, ‘Dad, they said you were doing drugs. They said you had a seizure. They said you can’t play no more. What’s going on?’

“I had to break it down for him in a way he could understand, like in his little cartoon movies. I said, ‘You know how there’s always a beginning, a middle and an end? In the beginning, it’s all good, right? Spider-Man is doing his thing. He’s discovering his superpowers. He’s chillin’. But in the middle, what happens? The hero always messes up. He gets knocked in the dirt. There’s always a sad part, right? Well, that’s where your dad’s been at. He made a mistake. He lost his superpowers for a minute. But it’s gonna be alright. We’re gonna make it through.’”

Waiters also was down on Instagram, writing that it was “a trap. You score 40, you’re a hero. Everybody love you. You score 10, and the hate you get is just … it’s pathetic, bro. Grown… men making fake accounts. Taking the time to really do that.”

And he expressed appreciation for his family’s support in hard times: “When your mental health is a problem, the solution is right there. You gotta turn to the people who love you. I mean really love you. Not the fake love. I’m talking about FAMILY. Sometimes I’d be lying in bed, feeling like trash. And my daughter Dior runs in, seven o’clock in the morning like, “Daaaaaaddd, get upppppp! Aaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!” Jumping on me, hugging me. And it’s like … damn. I ain’t have that as a kid, you know? That feeling fixes you up for a minute.

“You drink a gallon of water a day and you hug your kids? All of a sudden, it ain’t so bad.”

And he saluted James, who he said mentored him when he was a young player figuring things out as a fellow member of the Cleveland Cavaliers: “Bron used to show me different wines, different kinds of food. I was Philly Philly. I was raw. But Bron took me under his wing – and now all these years later, here we are again. Less hair, more wisdom. Life is crazy, right? Damn.”

KUZMA PROMOTES FOOD ACCESS

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is helping promote free grab-and-go meals for families around California, lending his voice to a campaign by the Dairy Council of California. The organization is striving to support food access for families during the pandemic.

“I’m working with Got Milk? to get the word out that free school meals are still available at drive-thru sites,” Kuzma said in a social media ad that links to a site map identifying locations of a school nutrition program offering free meal services to children 2-18 years old. “Just drive up in your car grab your meals and go.”