If you’re a pro basketball fan, you might have heard of Royce White. He was drafted in 2012 out of Iowa State by the Houston Rockets (first round, 16th overall), who hoped that the 6’8″ power forward with gigantic hands would help build the team for years to come.
Unfortunately, Royce White was dealing with issues that were stronger than battling to the paint. He suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. And one of those disorders was a fear of flying. The Rockets put White on their D-League team in Rio Grande Valley, then traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. He then bounced to the Sacramento Kings, where he split time between their D-League franchise in Reno and three games with the big club.
And now… Royce White wants to prove that he does have the talent to make it back to the NBA, and that he can use his skillsets to work past the mental handcuffs that plagued his adult career.
Last week, Royce White signed a contract to play for the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada. He also founded the online support group Anxious Minds, which offers frank and open discussions about the battles of mental health, anxiety disorders and clinical depression. Rather than being a victim, Royce White now wants to be an advocate.
Which, in itself, is amazing. Rather than saying his NBA career is impossible, Royce White wants to show it can be possible.
In the NBL, White will play in a highly competitive ten-team league. The other four teams in the Central Division are all Ontario-based franchises and are easily accessible by bus or car. As for the games in the Maritimes – well, that will be an issue for future discussing and addressing.
But for now, the only time Royce White should be concerned about flying … is when he’s heading to the hoop for a two-handed jam.
FTC BLOG DISCLOSURE: Although I am associated with the National Basketball League of Canada as their statistician and director of player clearances, at no time was I approached by any NBL-C team owner, coach or employee to compose this piece on Royce White. This article was composed to show that the path to professional basketball is a long and arduous journey, and that there are no easy paths to achieve your dream.