Keyon Dooling Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Assault, Mental Health
He writes about Doc Rivers coming to visit him at the hospital in a shockingly personal essay.
In a shockingly personal essay for The Player’s Tribune, Keyon Dooling writes about how he was sexually assaulted as a child, and his life after he committed himself to a mental institution. He writes that on his second day at the hospital, Doc Rivers came to visit. And Rivers didn’t look at him like “Keyon’s a psychopath,” but instead, looked at him with eyes full of support and kindness. Dooling said he will remember that look for the rest of his life.
A week before he was in the hospital, Dooling walked into general manager Danny Ainge’s office and told him he was done with basketball. Dooling explains that he started ranting to Ainge about a lot of things, including God and the “darkness all around us.” Ainge made a call and two of Dooling’s best friends on the team appeared, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo. Dooling writes that everyone probably thought he was crazy. Everyone but his wife, Bradley, Avery, Ainge and Rivers. They all gave him the same look, the look of kindness and confusion. “I will never forget that feeling of support. It saved my life,” Dooling said.
When Rivers showed up at the hospital, Dooling said he was finally ready to talk about what happened to him. When he was seven years old, growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, the older brother of a friend of his forced Dooling and another friend to touch him and perform oral sex on him. “I didn’t know what to think or what was going on. I was just confused, and angry. I was a kid,” Dooling writes. He writes that on that day, “something inside me changed.” He didn’t tell anyone. He started drinking at 10, smoking weed at 11, riding around in stolen cars at 12, having sex with older girls at 13. He channeled his rage into sports, to prove that he was strong, an alpha. For 25 years, he didn’t tell anyone what happened, and he went on to get married, join the NBA, have children. But then, in September 2012, a drunk man in a restaurant’s bathroom grabbed Dooling’s behind. And Dooling writes that after that, the walls closed in, and he couldn’t eat or sleep. He felt like he was going to die at any moment, and there was no relief. So that’s when he went to Ainge’s office.
“When we have diabetes, we go get treated. When we tear our ACL, we go get surgery. But if our heart is broken, or if our soul is hurting, what do we do?” Dooling writes. “We just internalize it. We become hard. We spend our whole lives running from the ghost. Until one day, it catches up to us. And I can speak from personal experience that all the alcohol and all the women and all the money in the world will not solve the problem.”
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