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Cavaliers' Kevin Love hopes Change Maker Award furthers his cause for mental health awareness

Akron Beacon Journal - 3/26/2019

March 26-- Mar. 26--INDEPENDENCE -- Cavaliers forward Kevin Love stepped to the forefront as a mental health advocate when he hit send a year ago on his Players' Tribune essay revealing his struggles with anxiety and depression that prompted him to seek therapy.

An award he will receive May 1 at Carnegie Hall in New York may further his cause. As announced in The Hollywood Reporter Monday, Love was chosen as one of three winners of Change Maker Awards given by the Child Mind Institute.

"The community that's kind of drawn together and gathered, it's pretty apparent that this was needed, especially in 2018, 2019 and beyond," Love said Tuesday after shootaround at Cleveland Clinic Courts. "I've had success, All-Stars, all-NBAs, Olympic gold medal, world championship in 2016, more than anything in my career, people have come up to me and talked about this, talked about what they've dealt with or talked about a family member that's dealt with it.

"I've been able to help people, but it's also been therapy for me because I can live my life not in fear and I mean that in that I know I'm not alone. It's allowed me, at least from a social anxiety standpoint, to not feel like I'm isolated. I feel like I'm part of a bigger community, which is amazing."

The Change Maker event celebrates individuals and organizations that raise awareness and effect change in the area of children's mental illness and early prevention. Actor Goldie Hawn and Harry and Laura Slatkin are the other recipients.

"It's great. I never thought I would be here and be talking about my struggle and being able to help people. Awards, that kind of thing is not why I do it, but the recognition for me being able to change people's lives in a positive way is pretty cool," Love said. "Setting up my fund and paying it forward in a big way as much as I can is very cool for me. Just want to continue to grow that and use my platform and reach as many people as possible, so that (award) can only help."

Love will be presented the Champion Award for his advocacy. He started The Kevin Love Fund, in partnership with Headspace, to promote awareness.

Love said he hopes mental health will soon be touched on or taught as part of a middle school curriculum. He said that's when he first realized how he was feeling and didn't understand it.

"I was probably 11 or 12 years old," Love said. "I would like everybody at that age to have an outlet. Whether it's themselves, their friends, their family at home, whatever they're dealing with ... There's a lot of things that can lead to anxiety and depression, anything mental illness or mental wellness-wise, or it could be something that's already there. I think the younger generation will probably be the focus moving forward, but it won't be the sole focus."

Hawn works with MindUP, which helps teach children the skills to cope with stress and emotions and prevent depression, anxiety and suicide. Harry and Laura Slatkin, the owner and chairman of Homeworx and founder of NEST Fragrances, respectively, founded New York Collaborates for Autism.

The Cavs play in San Antonio Thursday and Love hopes to catch up with DeMar DeRozan, whose admission he was dealing with depression spurred Love to come forward.

"We've been able to keep up with each other a few times throughout the year, just check in," Love said. "He's in position where they can have much success in the playoffs and under (coach Gregg Popovich) I believe he's learned a lot. Even off the court he seems to be doing a lot better.

"He was the guy that opened the door for me. I think I'll always be not only connected to him, but thankful to him in a big way."

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

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