Get To Know Royce White, The NBA Draft's Biggest Mystery

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(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Royce White is a forward from Iowa State who'll go somewhere in the middle of the first round of the NBA Draft Thursday night, and he's also a vocal advocate for mental health awareness who suffers from bouts of anxiety and OCD, and who quit basketball to focus on recording music back in 2010. In this week's Sports Illustrated, Pablo Torre takes a closer look at White in all his chaotic glory.

Today, White's panic really surges only around airplanes, the residue of a lifelong fear of heights. "I know flying's safer than driving," he says. "But if I even start to talk about flying, it does something to me physically." Most often, his ride to the airport&mda sh;when his imagination begins to fixate on the possibility of a crash—winds up being more punishing than the flight, which White survives by watching movies and interrogating attendants about the slightest bumps and noises. "It's an adrenaline thing," he says. "If the plane goes down, I'm ready to open the door, cartwheel out, and try to hit a tuck-and-roll on the ground."

[...]

Beyond anxiety, in fact, White also deals with obsessive compulsive tendencies—undiagnosed, yes, but, after a guided tour of his apartment, exceedingly obvious. "OCD is like my gift," he says, smiling. White alphabetizes his DVD rack; symmetrically arranges his throw pillows; incessantly straightens his black-and-white framed posters of the Beatles and Muhammad Ali; and only sets his phone and wallet down at right angles. And then there's the five-shelf shoe rack in his bedroom. "If I'm walking and bump a shoe," White says, gesturing in front of the immaculate footwear, "it might take me three minutes to redo all this."

It was his OCD, White notes, that compelled him to right every crooked note and learn how to compose music in the first place. After withdrawing from Minnesota in February 2010—and spending two months working and sleeping in music studios around South Minneapolis—White and a friend put together drafts of more than 200 songs. "I'm kind of impulsive," White says, "and OCD is the thing God built in for me so I'll always finish things." He's written everything from movie scripts (one is about a city built around windmills) to business plans, outlining the structure of his enterprises (including a record label named IAMU). Where does he find the time? "I play sports all day," White says. "The last thing I want to do is watch them."

You've probably heard about his airplane anxiety before, but only setting his wallet down at right angles? Symmetrically arranging his pillows? Sleeping in music studios and writing movie scripts? I don't know much about Royce White the player, but after reading about Royce White the person, I kinda love him for all this. Check out the full story over at Sports Illustrated.

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