BUCKHEAD, Ga. — The emptiness is inevitable, inescapable and, sometimes, fatal. Once pro football is through with you, count on it spitting you back out into society a concussed and confused man, searching for purpose.discount nfl jerseys
Jamal Lewis remembers the feeling well.
Leaning against the back wall at the top of the bleachers, he takes in his 14-year-old son’s AAU basketball practice, while his eight-year-old son (Jazz) and nine-year-old daughter (Ivana) wander off. Both sneak…and sneak…and sneak…down to the court, googly-eyeing Dad with an up-to-no-good smirk. Initially, Lewis shouts for them to stay put, but even he cannot help but laugh as the two inch along the baseline like night crawlers.nfl discount jerseys
Then, with all kids out of earshot, Lewis’ words knife through the sound of squeaking sneakers synchronizing with bouncing basketballs. When the NFL ejected him—when one final undiagnosed concussion sent Lewis spiraling into the abyss—he considered killing himself.
“You think about death,” the former Ravens star says. “I’ve thought about suicide. I’ve thought about ending it all.”
He felt his self-worth disappear because, he says, the “cheerleaders” in his life—the 70,000 screaming fans each Sunday—disappeared. His trucking company collapsed. He filed for bankruptcy. His assets were seized. He felt a distance between himself and his family. He felt lost in the emptiness and couldn’t tell a soul about these demons. Didn’t know how to, really. Where he’s from, Atlanta’s hardscrabble Adamsville nfl jerseys discount neighborhood, expressing feelings was a sign of weakness.
“You just kept it to yourself,” he says, “and you dealt with it. You let it out on the field.”
Without that outlet—without a linebacker to smash into—suicidal thoughts creeped into his mind and spread like a virus.
One by one, he saw three of his former offensive linemen die from health-related issues. Orlando Bobo to heart and liver failure. Orlando Brown to diabetic ketoacidosis. Damion Cook to a massive heart attack. Suicide seemed like a better way to go.discount nfl jersey
“You just have those thoughts about should you end it?” Lewis says. “I can only imagine with sleep apnea and heart attacks and heart disease. Who wants to go out like that? Especially when you have people upset with you—your wife upset with you, pissed off, discount nfl jerseys china you have to file bankruptcy, made bad decisions…”