WASHINGTON WATCH: WNBA’s Chamique Holdsclaw Discusses Her Battle With Depression And New Book (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH: WNBA’s Chamique Holdsclaw Discusses Her Battle With Depression And New Book (VIDEO)

Even as far back as high school, Chamique Holdsclaw was a winner. After winning four, straight state championships with her high school teammates, she won three national titles at the University of Tennessee. She went on to play for the WNBA in spite of the fact that she carried a debilitating secret. She suffered from clinical depression. She writes about her struggles in her new book Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot after Shot.

Chamique Holdsclaw joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss her new book and battles with depression.

MR. MARTIN:  Welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

Even as far back as high school, Chamique Holdsclaw was a winner.  After winning four, straight state championships with her high school teammates, she won three national titles at the University of Tennessee.  She went on to play for the WNBA in spite of the fact that she carried a debilitating secret.  She suffered from clinical depression.  She writes about her struggles in her new book Breaking Through:  Beating the Odds Shot after Shot.

Chamique stopped by to talk about her ordeal, but before we got into it, I asked her how she felt about the retirement of her college coach, mentor and dear friend Pat Summit.

[BEGIN EARLIER, IN-STUDIO INTERVIEW.]

MS. CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW:  It’s rare that you find coaches that stay at one program 39 years.  I mean she was – she got the job at 21 years old.  That’s unheard of, and she’s just built an amazing legacy.  You know, everyone’s gone through that program – 161 young ladies who have graduated with degrees and gone on to be productive women in society.

MR. MARTIN:  She was a critical player for – person in your life, but really the person who played a huge role for you was your grandmother.

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  And you talk about her in the book, and you talk about losing her and going on this path that really led to depression and just changed your life.

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Yes.  I mean in our community, there’s a lot of times that we’re raised by our grandparents, and my parents were alcoholics, and we were taken away from them by the government.  My grandmother came, and with blind faith – now, she’s older.  She’s supposed to be living her life, about –

MR. MARTIN:  Right, right.

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  — to retire.  She takes me and my brother in.  She teaches me discipline –

MR. MARTIN:  How old –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  — and structure.

MR. MARTIN:  — how old were you when that happened[?]?

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Ten years old.

MR. MARTIN:  Wow.

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  So, it was an adjustment.  You know, my mom and dad – they bought me the cool clothes and sneakers.  My grandmother was buying me the so-called “skips.”

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  You know, it was that – we had to get adjusted to each other, but it was amazing.  I learned so much.  I learned values and discipline.  And when I lost her, it was just tough.  That was the one person in my life that I – I wanted to please – you know?  I just – I just wanted to please her and make her happy.

MR. MARTIN:  And it was difficult for you, coming in, because here you were, this All-American player regarded as one of the greatest college basketball players ever.  Now, all of a sudden, you come into the WNBA expecting  huge –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  — huge things –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — and this changes the course of your career.

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Oh, everything.  I went from my grandmother’s protective environment to Pat Summit’s.  I’m 21 years old, coming to Washington, D.C.  You know, I’m from the – the inner city, so we’re not the most educated on this whole process.  Here I am, you know.  People are throwing money at me, big endorsement deals, and my face is all over D.C. billboards.  And I felt so alone – like, “Who’s gonna help me?”  So, it was really that in- — adjustment, and Coach Summit really stepped in and kind of led the way on that.  But when I finally got it together, and I finally started [it] figuring out, here goes my grandmother.  You know, she passes away, and it was just a – a snowball effect.  You know, I was just so lonely.  I was really down.

But I was great at – I was, like, a professional masker.  You know, I can turn it on.  You would know nothing’s the matter with me.  I was just extremely high, social, wanting to go out and party, have a good time.  When I got home, it’s – the shades were drawn.  It was days I couldn’t get out of bed; days I would have thoughts of, you know, drawing – driving my vehicle into a tree or something, or jumping off a building.  It was just that imbalance.

MR. MARTIN:  And when you finally had it diagnosed, your reaction.

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  “Whatever.  I don’t believe this!”  [Chuckles.]  “You don’t know me.  This is what” – I was like, “You don’t know me.  How” – “How can you tell me” – I was in –

MR. MARTIN:  So you went –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  — denial.

MR. MARTIN:  — through all of this sort of –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — stuff –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — and then they say, “This is what” – “This is exactly what” –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — “you have.  You have depression,” and you’re going, “Yeah, right.”

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Yeah, I – I’m not supposed to have depression.  I’m – I’m strong.  I’m a[n] athlete.  I’ve overcome my environment, my predicament.  I’m successful now.

MR. MARTIN:  Last question.  Professional teams, the leagues – do they have strong enough programs to help athletes deal with this?  Because they have great rehab programs –

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — to get you back on that field or that court from an injury, but do they have strong enough programs for what is happening mentally with athletes?

MS. HOLDSCLAW:  Now, we both know the answer.  No.  No, not at all.  The NFL put together the Community Huddle with Dr. Satcher over at Morehouse School of Medicine – he – he led those – to kind of like draw – bring awareness to it, and the NFL did a great job about stepping out there and – and being a voice in sports.  But it’s there.  Every team has a sports psychiatrist, but is the player really going to go?  No.

MR. MARTIN:  You can read more of Chamique’s story in her book Breaking Through.  The foreword was written by Pat Summit.