Ryan Anderson opens up about girlfriend’s suicide

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The girlfriend of Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson – Gia Allemand, who became famous while appearing on The Bachelor – committed suicide in August 2013.

Anderson has spoken about the ordeal, but never with this much depth.

Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated:

The first thing Ryan saw upon entering Gia’s fourth-floor apartment were her knees. His recollections of what followed are fragmentary. His screaming and running to her. The vacuum-cleaner cord hanging from the second-floor handrail of the spiral staircase, so tight around her neck that at first he couldn’t loosen it. Gia’s dog, Bentley, running to him. A neighbor arriving and dialing 911 as Ryan tried to revive Gia. Seeing the three-word note in her handwriting on the dining room table:Mom gets everything. Paramedics rushing in. Ryan calling Donna. Donna cursing at him, screaming that he knew Gia was sensitive, that he was supposed to protect her. The police pushing through the door. Ryan answering questions, sobbing, blaming himself. Pelicans coach Monty Williams hurrying in with a team security guard and finding Ryan slumped on the carpet, his back to the door, unable to rise. Williams dropping to his knees and hugging his player, the two men rocking back and forth.

For Williams, the night was a test of sorts. A fourth-year coach, Williams had played at Notre Dame and then for five NBA teams. He and Anderson were unusually close. Both men were Christians, and they bonded immediately despite the vast differences in their backgrounds. Williams grew up in poverty, was sexually abused as a boy and once, at Notre Dame, considered suicide. That didn’t make it any easier to relate to Anderson now, however. Everyone’s pain is different.

As a crowd milled outside the apartment complex, Williams and the security guard hoisted up Ryan, who was limp and drenched with tears and sweat, too hysterical even to walk. They dragged Ryan to the elevator and then into a waiting car, the tops of his feet, still wedged into flip-flops, scraping the asphalt so hard that his toes still bear thick white calluses more than a year later.

As they drove in silence, Williams kept thinking that it was fine if he blew a game, but he couldn’t mess up now. Once home, he huddled with his wife, Ingrid, and Ryan in the family room, praying. Ingrid’s brother had committed suicide recently. She knew not to say it was going to be O.K., because it wasn’t. “This is going to be hard for a long time,” she told Ryan.

That night, as the family pastor came and went, Ryan cried so much that it felt as if he were dry heaving or bleeding internally. Each convulsion ripped his insides apart.
Around 1 a.m., at Ingrid’s urging, Monty brought one of his sons’ mattresses down to the living room. There the two men lay through the night, Ryan curled on the sofa and his coach on the floor next to him. When Ryan wanted to talk, they talked. Otherwise there was only his muted sobbing. Finally, just after the sun came up, Ryan fell into a fitful sleep.

That was only the beginning of Anderson recovering, a process that is still ongoing.In addition to Williams, Anderson has relied on teammates and family.

He also wants to use his platform to help others – those battling depression and those who interact with people battling depression. Ballard:

Ryan hopes that every time he hits a deep three or scraps for a rebound, fans will think about Gia. He hopes people will read this story or Google him and learn about depression and the warning signs of suicide. He hopes they will feel O.K. talking about it. After all, someone dies from cancer and it’s described heroically — “a battle.” Suicide is viewed as selfish. “Anyone who knows Gia knows that selfish was the last thing she was,” Ryan says. “She would never want to cause anyone suffering. She just wanted to escape the pain.”

“People need to put a face to [suicide prevention and survival], and I’m O.K. being that face.” He pauses. “I’m not overjoyed that I have to talk about the most painful experience of my life, but either I become that face or I tuck [myself] away in a corner and I let this rule over me.”

Anderson is working with the organization “To Write Love On Her Arms” to get the word out.

Go read the entire article. It’s a powerful story, and you might learn something about this all-important issue.