Keyon Dooling stayed in a psychiatric hospital this summer, talks with Katie Couric about his history of abuse (VIDEO)By Eric Freeman | Ball Don't Lie – 6 hours ago
Keyon and Natosha Dooling on the set of "Katie" (Ida Mae Astute/ ABC via Getty Images).
In late September, veteran Boston Celtics guard Keyon Dooling surprised the NBA world when he announced his retirement less than two months after signing a new contract. However, it turned out that Dooling had an excellent reason for his decision.
After years of suppressing a history of sexual abuse, Dooling
understood that he had to open up about his experiences, that he needed a
change in his life, and that he had to spend more time with his family.
It was a brave choice for a man who had earned the respect of
teammates, opponents, coaches, and employers over the course of 12
seasons in the league.
Until now, though, we haven't heard much about the experiences this
summer that led Dooling to step away from basketball. As detailed by
David Aldridge of NBA.com, Dooling dealt with hallucinations and related
issues brought on by a form of post-traumatic stress disorder and had
to spend a significant amount of time in a psychiatric hospital. The entire story is worth reading
— it follows Aldridge's report on the Lakers' hiring of Mike D'Antoni —
but here's a brief glimpse into what Dooling went through:
Dooling was exhibiting behaviors familiar to soldiers
returning from war zones. But Post Traumatic Stress Disorders aren't
limited to those who fight in wars. Police officers, firefighters,
anyone subject to a severe emotional episode can suffer from PTSD.
Dooling's problems came to a head in August.
He was at home, playing in the street in front of his home with his
kids. A neighbor thought he was playing too roughly with the kids and
called the police. There is uncertainty about how many officers showed
up -- 10? 12? 20? -- but it was more than one. The Doolings were new to
the neighborhood. They know the police were just doing their job,
responding to a call. But a bunch of cops showing up, unannounced,
banging on your door is a little disconcerting.
"So I ran to the door to see what was going on," Keyon Dooling said.
"I was like, 'Who is this knocking like they're the damn police?' That's
what I said to myself. So when I got to the door, it was really the
police. They was like, 'Get on the ground, get on the ground, get on the
ground!' So I got on the ground." [...]
Dooling was taken away and hospitalized for evaluation. He didn't
remember voluntarily signing into the hospital. The details are hazy, in
part, because he was immediately put on medication. One of the primary
symptoms of PTSD is paranoia, and Dooling was surely paranoid. He didn't
want to see anybody -- or anybody to see him.
"They try to find the right dosage of medicine," he said.
"Unfortunately, the dosages are so high that they start out with, all
the side effects hit you. And unfortunately, it's [during] visiting
hours. So when my wife was coming, I was scared, because I had no
control over what I said, what I thought. It was a bad situation." [...]
After a week, Dooling was ready to leave the hospital. But he had a
lot of work yet to do. He knew playing this season would make no sense,
which led to the abrupt retirement. He had made strides spiritually. But
he had to deal with the memories of the abuse. He had never told
It's a fascinating, deeply moving story. What's most impressive,
perhaps, is that Dooling isn't using a retirement solely as a chance to
work on personal issues — he has also emerged as an advocate for victims
of sexual abuse. Last Thursday, Dooling and his wife Natosha appeared
on Katie Couric's new talk show "Katie" to talk about his history, why
he stayed silent, and how he and others are attempting to help fellow
victims. Check out these four clips (via Celtics blog Red's Army):
Note: These videos feature very frank, adult (though not especially graphic) discussions of Dooling's history of sexual abuse.
Dooling describes his atypical sexual education and how his abuse began:
The Doolings discuss the prevalence of abuse in the inner city and how Keyon came to understand he had been abused: