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Bill Walton considered ending life due to back pain

Apr 19, 2010, 10:46 PM EDT

This story talks to some big issues: The price professional athletes pay with their bodies for our entertainment, the treatment of chronic pain by our medical establishment, the effect of that pain on the human condition.

Bill Walton admitted in an interview with the San Diego Tribune that his back pain actually got so bad he considered ending his own life.

Walton, one of the all-time-great basketball players, a man whose intelligence and enthusiasm enabled him to roll over every pothole in his past and find success in most every endeavor he’s undertaken, admits the incredible pain brought about by a bad back took him to the brink, where he contemplated taking his own life.

“I’m getting back into the game of life,” Walton, throwing both of his long arms in the air, was saying as we sat outside his San Diego home. “I have a new life now. It got to the point where my life wasn’t worth living. I was standing on the edge of the bridge, figuring it was better to jump than to go back to where I was.”

New back pain procedures helped improve his condition and his outlook (the story goes into this in enough detail to make you think a PR company helped write it).

Walton had advantages many of us don’t. He had family — his wife in particular — for support. He has money. He had options that most Americans do not.

It’s hard not to be happy for Walton, a legend on the court and a bigger than life personality, but it makes you think about the bigger picture. 

  1. Bruce - Apr 20, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    Please have Bill email how he got over that problem. I have terific back pain which on many days is over the top.

  2. Bruce Neal - Apr 20, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Please have Bill email how he got over that problem. I have terific back pain which on many days is over the top.

  3. bogus - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    When Bill played for the then San Diego Clippers, the promotional billboards showed his side view with the catch phrase,
    “Walton’s back, see him up front”. Truly one of the best.

  4. BC - Apr 20, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    His feet were all screwed up too, weren’t they? Or was that a result of the back?

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