Alliance Profile - Chris Wright
Chris Wright is an American professional basketball player for Basket Zaragoza of the Spanish Liga ACB. In 2013 when he played in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks, he became the first known player in the league’s history to have been diagnosed with, and played with, multiple sclerosis.
What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
My rookie season being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis was a major blow to my career and overall health. Mentally I went into a very dark place….started drinking and partying for about 3/4 months to numb the pain…the uncertainty…the “what if” questions that ran through my mind constantly.
How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?
When I was diagnosed with MS, I was paralyzed and couldn’t move my limbs for about a month. So, you can imagine how frustrated, scared, and confused I was. During that time, I was always extremely lethargic, angry, emotional, and filled with a lot of hate towards everything.
When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?
My family really saved me. They were extremely supportive of every decision I wanted to make. My wife and family did everything they could to uplift and inspire me. They helped me find the best doctors. As well as my coach – John Thompson III, he was very instrumental in trying to make sure I was well taken care of.
What methods helped you individually get/feel better?
Yoga helped me more than anything. It really allowed me to understand my body. As well as being prescribed Tysabri which allowed me to get back on the court and perform at a high level. Without the medication and really focusing on yoga, I’m not sure I would still be able to play professionally 12 years later.
Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I‘ve always been a believer in owning your own story. I felt a responsibility and purpose to share my journey with the world. Representation is a big influence for the younger generation and I wanted my story to be the new perception of what MS can be. I didn’t have a blueprint for MS and playing professional basketball. I decided to embrace it and wear it as a badge of honor for others to follow me – that others with MS can succeed like I’ve been able to…but that anyone with challenges could overcome – to perform at the highest levels of whatever they are pursuing.
How did people react when you went public with your story?
Friends and family were very cautious because they didn’t know how the rest of the world would receive it. Initially people were rejecting me and I got turned down by many basketball clubs in the NBA and Europe. Eventually, as I kept talking and opening up, and sharing, it was received extremely well and inspired many. I was amazed at how many people my story connected with, and had similar obstacles they were facing.
Do you have any resources you would like to drive people to?