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Kevin Love Wins ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award: A Huge Step For Mental Health Advocacy

Kevin Love, star power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, has already won an NBA Championship, among numerous other titles since being drafted in 2008. On Sunday, June 21st, 2020, Love will add to his trophy collection by taking home the Arthur Ashe Courage Award from ESPN’s the ESPY Awards (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award). The Courage Award, named after the tennis great, is given each year to a person whose contributions transcend sports.

In 2018, Love decided to go public with his mental health struggles by writing a first-person essay titled, “Everyone is Going Through Something” on The Players’ Tribune. Love and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, were initially concerned about Love’s opening up on mental health –an underrepresented topic, especially in professional athletes, likely due to its negative stigma.

However, Love went through with the article, which detailed his experiences with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Since then, he’s become one of the main faces of mental health advocacy amongst athletes. With this, Love founded The Kevin Love Fund –an organization that “strives to inspire people to live their healthiest lives while providing the tools to achieve physical and emotional well being.”

The Kevin Love Fund has partnered with various mental health organizations to provide resources and education to students and athletes across the country. Many of this work focuses on young adults, a population especially at risk for mental illness.

Love recently released a statement after learning that he would win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. He said, “It is an absolute honor to receive this award and I am incredibly humbled by it. In telling my story, if I can help just one child that is suffering to make sense of what they are experiencing, I know my efforts have been worth it. And I hope one day we are able to erase the stigma around mental illness, starting with public conversations around mental health and encouraging people to seek help when they need it, followed by research, action, and change.”

Love continued, “It’s really a profound honor if you look back at that group of men and women who I admire. Billie Jean King, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, to name a few. It’s very, very humbling to see my name next to those. I just feel like I have so much more work to do. Those are people who put in a lifetime of work. With my name next to theirs, I have an obligation and opportunity to make a lot of change in the world of mental health”

Our team at The Hidden Opponent was ecstatic to hear the news of the 2020 Arthur Ashe ESPY award. This is a win not only for Kevin Love and his foundation, but for all that have battled mental illness. With this award, ESPN, America’s top sports media outlet, will be recognizing mental health as a topic of conversation and an area of needed resources. The issue of mental health has only recently moved from being a private matter to the public eye. Thus, Love’s Arthur Ashe ESPY award stands as a huge step forward for normalizing mental health in day to day conversations, as well as the media.

The ESPY Awards will be aired on ABC on Sunday the 21st at 9pm EDT.

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