The Norman Transcript

Sports

February 24, 2013

Royce White, pioneer for the mentally ill?

HOUSTON — Royce White may never make it in the NBA.

The Houston Rockets’ first-round draft pick might drift into anonymity as a role player, someone more familiar on the bench than on the court.

Yet no matter what path his career takes, he’s already built a legacy — as a fierce, outspoken advocate for the mentally ill and their legal rights in the workplace. In his case, that workplace is the highest level of professional basketball in the world.

White has general anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder and he’s finally back on the court after refusing to play for 2 1/2 months until he got special additions, or protocols, put in his contract to help him cope with his condition. The basis for White’s stand was the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees with a physical or mental impairment.

White’s often contentious and very public dispute with his team culminated in late January with a unique (cut ‘written’) agreement that addresses White’s issues. White joined the Rockets’ developmental league affiliate two weeks ago to resume the career that got him all the attention in the first place.

“It was tough not being able to play,” White said, “but it was necessary.”

Lawyers say White’s campaign raises intriguing questions about how the ADA addresses mental illness in professional sports, and may provide a road map for other athletes to follow. Psychiatrists say White’s openness about his disorder has already helped lift the stigma of mental illness and may embolden other athletes to publicly acknowledge their afflictions.

In itself, an athlete dealing with mental illness is not a recent development.

Outfielder Jimmy Piersall famously coped with bipolar disorder in the 1950s, spending seven weeks in a mental hospital at one point. He returned to baseball, was twice named to the All-Star team and played in the majors until the late 1960s. Pitcher Zack Greinke almost quit baseball because of his social anxiety disorder, but learned to control it and was named the AL Cy Young award winner in 2009. Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall has been named to four Pro Bowls despite an acknowledged borderline personality disorder. Retired NFL running back Ricky Williams won the Heisman Trophy at Texas and played 11 NFL seasons while dealing with social anxiety disorder.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 5.49.44 AM.png Julian Wilson, Geneo Grissom take on more suitable roles for 2015 season

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches....

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woodard joins successful soccer team in Stillwater

    Haley Woodard has been one of the preeminent multi-sport stars in the state for several years. The Norman North senior is a state champion in track and soccer and has been an integral part of a basketball team that’s been to back-to-back ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Smoke turns corner at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS — Drivers always say there’s something magical about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opportunity for NASCAR to race there opened the door for one of Jeff Gordon’s most treasured victories. It was a race Tony Stewart ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Roma tops Liverpool

    BOSTON — Marco Borriello scored in the 90th minute to give Roma a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in a preseason friendly Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There were limited chances until Borriello volleyed in a corner from in front of goal....

    July 24, 2014

  • Marcus Mariota helps Oregon’s PAC-12 title chance in preseason polls

    LOS ANGELES — Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role....

    July 24, 2014

  • Majka wins 16th stage, Nibali leads

    PLA D’ADET, France — On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycle’s antenna....

    July 24, 2014

  • Aggie’s QB Chuckie Keeton talk dominates Mountain West media day

    LAS VEGAS — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton got his junior season off to a superb start, only to have it derailed by a knee injury in Game 6....

    July 24, 2014

  • Heavily favored U.S. group faces off against world’s best female golfers

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The inaugural International Crown is unique for what it isn’t. Thirty-two elite players from eight countries will compete at Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which nation has the best women’s players in the world. ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Weir, DeLaet attempt to end 60-year Open drought

    MONTREAL — Mike Weir was well aware that it has been 60 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open....

    July 24, 2014

  • NCAA infractions chair responds to ‘cheating pays’

    The chairman of the NCAA’s infractions committee says a number of factors could be the cause for the lack of activity by the group that prompted Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to call the enforcement program “broken.”

    July 23, 2014

Facebook