Royce White, who has yet to play a game for the Houston Rockets, told HBO that his mental health issues and the team's involvement are a matter of life and death, according to an advance copy that Sports Illustrated reviewed.
"If I was an NBA player now without the protocols and safety measures," he said, "I would be risking my health, risking my life. What comes along with mental health if left untreated? Alcohol abuse, marijuana abuse, suicidal behavior, homicidal behavior, those are things I'm not willing to risk to play basketball, to have money, to have fame. That's it."
Sports Illustrated also obtained copies of a letter that Houston General Manager Daryl Morey sent to White following the rookie's refusal to show up to practices. In the letter, Morey writes that White admitted to misleading the team about his fear of flying being an issue. It also discusses some of the help the Rockets provided White, including flying him with player personnel and doctor referrals.
White maintained that he had a medical reason for every missed practice, and he said that his anxiety issues were similar to a physical ailment such as a broken ankle or toe.
The forward out of Iowa State also provided HBO an addendum to his contract that, in short, applies his mental health problems as part of any "medical condition" mentioned.
White was drafted 16th overall in the 2012 draft and has refused D-League assignments. He was suspended by the team in January.