Keyon Dooling

Keyon Dooling is a Florida boy whose community supported him through adolescence and into adulthood when he ventured to the Midwest for college. Ultimately his successful 13-year NBA career came to an end as he began confronting his struggles with PTSD. Today he’s a mental health advocate raising awareness in society, but also on a deeper level advocating for the mental health of collegiate athletes.

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We started the conversation off with Keyon’s journey and reflecting how it’s difficult for athletes to stop and enjoy the roses, so to speak. It’s often tough to enjoy the journey when they’re on the day to day grind, but they can consciously take advantage of the development and opportunities presented to them. The NCAA as an institution does a good job providing for and caring for the student athlete, but there are ways to improve especially in the mental health arena. Understanding the experience of the student athlete is a critical component of improving their journey.

After the politics were discussed, Keyon shared with us his development as a young athlete. Being a Florida boy he had the support of his family, neighborhood, and coaches which became a drivers for his success. As Keyon mentioned, “poverty is a hell of a motivational tool.” He saw his talent in athletics as a way to change his life.

Keyon’s been on a speaking tour to raise awareness about PTSD and sexual abuse of children. His battle with his past and an ensuing struggle with PTSD triggered a breakdown and subsequently led to his retirement from the NBA. His mission is to reduce the stigma behind mental health struggles and create avenues for support, especially for student athletes.

To learn more about Keyon’s message, find him on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Contact him for speaking engagements, or check out his book, “What’s Driving You???

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