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NBA All-Stars camp focuses on the mental health of athletes

Feb 18, 2023, 7:47 PM | Updated: May 15, 2023, 1:59 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Aside from all the conditioning, training, and games, there’s a whole other kind of preparation that goes into an athlete’s best self that starts with one’s mind.

On Saturday at West High School, former NBA players, collegiate standouts, and the sports community came together to highlight the importance of mental health.

There is the basketball game, and then there is the game of mental health. The pressure for athletes, including youth, all the way up to the pros is high.

That’s something Jalen Moore, Utah State basketball standout, who went on to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks, gets firsthand. He realized he got a lot of anxiety and depression that had been building throughout his college career.

Feeling the stakes were too high to share how he really felt, his game-winning point came down to choosing his mental health.

“I knew that I needed to go home, be around my support system, and that was a really tough thing for me to do, is to have to tell my agent, have to tell the Milwaukee Bucks, that I have to step away from the sport that I loved and worked so hard for to get to this point,” Moore expressed.

Conditioning and practicing still apply to him.

“I was like, ‘I’m gonna have to go to therapy’ It didn’t just make it go away, but it gave me a lot of different ways I can cope and grow from it,” Moore said.

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Once an athlete, always an athlete. Now, he’s helping coach younger athletes while standing as a mental health advocate with the hope that younger basketball players like Cooper Cox, put their minds first.

“Three brothers. I’m the fourth. We all have played sports our whole lives,” Cox said.

A high school junior at Logan High, Cox knows confidence on the court is a big deal. Equally important, he knows what to do when the stakes are high.

“You know, I take a few deep breaths. I realize it’s not that deep, and we’re here to have fun,” Cox said.

Resources, like the Salt Lake County Youth Services, are also there to step in to help.

“It’s all in the thinking. If we can get them thinking positive and find some motivation, we can make a change. That’s all we’re trying to do,” said Shaon Trimus, Family Therapist with Salt Lake County Youth Services.

Salt Lake County Youth Services said they want to reach any youth who needs that extra listening ear by offering free services.

The goal is for youth to have those tools to thrive, whether on the court and always through the mind.

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NBA All-Stars camp focuses on the mental health of athletes