Keyon Dooling retired before the start of the 2012-2013 season, after signing a fresh contract with the Boston Celtics. The Celtics’ veteran guard was brought to the decision after some serious thought, discussions with loved ones, and reaching a breaking point.
“”It just all came to a head. To be honest with you, I blocked a lot of things out of my life. I’m a man who’s been abused, sexually, emotionally, mentally…It took literally a meltdown for everybody to see how serious I was about not playing ball anymore.”
Via Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie.
The revelation that Dooling was abused as a child was shocking, to say the least. Serving a position of some prominence as Vice President of the NBA Players’ Union, Dooling was long seen as a man of composed leadership. Little of the NBA veteran’s time was spent on mentioning his individual contributions. Dooling often took the load of press-duties off of the Celtics’ stars. He saw it as his responsibility to do so.
Acting as the Celtics’ Press Secretary was only a layer, a relatively thin one, of the kind of help Dooling was to his peers in the NBA:
“…there’s so many guys around the NBA who have been abused and I know it because I’ve been their therapist.”
In the NBA, Dooling was known to be among a distinguished group (if there are more than a handful) of guys in whom other players could confide. Even before his past brought out concealed emotions, Dooling had been providing a shoulder, an ear, and a peer for other players to defer to in times of distress.
Recently, Dooling, along with wife, was a guest on Katie Couric’s interview show. He was asked about his past, about how his father played, his memory of his first time being sexually abused. As soon as Couric tried to get Dooling to describe his first encounter of abuse (3:00 mark of the video), the retired guard reminded his interviewer, “you know…I’m here to raise awareness. It’s not about me anymore. It’s about these kids who may be going through it…”
Dooling is an important component in the fight against child abuse. I use the word “component” only because the NBA veteran himself wouldn’t want anyone seeing him as some sort of hero, even if that’s just word that comes to mind. He not only accepted and shared his past with his wife, an experience Dooling thought would make him feel “like less of a man”, but he went to one of television’s most watched interview shows and shared it with the world.
Dooling used a past that he has had immense trouble with to advocate the ongoing fight against the molestation of children. His approach to discussing his experience mirrors the way he approached basketball. Answering honestly the questions Couric had on his experience, Dooling had a chillingly calm tone to each word he spoke. He may not ever say it, but Dooling is a hero.
What’s more? Somehow, someway, even when millions of people saw him as an advocating hero who defied incredible odds…Dooling manages to take the spot light off himself.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim