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Kevin Love Describes the Intensity of His Panic Attack in ESPN Interview


Kevin Love is 6 foot 10, a power forward and center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has been playing professional basketball for 10 years.

This November, in the middle of a game against the Hawks, he endured a panic attack so intense, he collapsed to the ground and was rushed to the hospital.

This week, after “coming out” about this experience in an essay called, “Everyone Is Going Through Something,” he described his panic attack in even more detail in an interview with ESPN — and anyone who thinks only “weak” people get panic attacks needs to hear it.

Love said while he always had anxiety — the kind that keeps you up at night, ruminating about the worst things that have happened to you — this November was the first time he had a panic attack. During a timeout, he didn’t feel right and couldn’t catch his breath. He ran to the locker room.

He then described the following:

I was essentially searching for something that I couldn’t find, I didn’t know this feeling. Then I just basically ran to our trainer’s room and fell on the ground, collapsed. My heart was jumping out of my chest. I couldn’t get air to my lungs. I was trying to clear my throat, I was sticking my hand down my throat, trying to get myself air. It was terrifying, I thought I was having a heart attack. I really felt like I was going to die.

When he got to the hospital, he was told he had experienced a panic attack.

Some people might assume having a panic attack just means “freaking out” or hyperventilating, but really, they affect everyone differently. Sometimes they are so physical, like the one Love experienced, they knock you down. Sometimes, people dissociate through their panic attacks, so it might not seem like anything is wrong at all.

In a piece, “23 Metaphors That Might Help You Explain What a Panic Attack Feels Like,” others described their panic attacks in the following ways:

  • “It feels like I’m holding my breath while underwater. When I try to come to the surface and breathe in more air, my lungs are unable to expand. Instead, I continue to struggle to breathe. Once the attack passes, I finally get some air, but it is still not nearly enough.” — Katie W.
  • “Like being squeezed through a very small, very tight rubber tube. You can’t hear, can’t breathe, can’t see. It’s just you with the overwhelming darkness struggling to break free and see the light again.” — Brittany D.
  • “Like my skeleton is trying to escape through my skin.” — Jessica L.

As a man, Love said, he was taught to suppress how he was feeling. Now, he knows talking about his experience and seeking help will help him grow.

“There are players out there who think you’re soft because you did this… what do you say to them?” the interviewer asked.

“It’s such a tired statement. It’s outdated,” Love said, adding,”This is an everyone and every human thing.”

We’re thankful that Love is getting real about panic attacks — proving that “real” men can struggle with anxiety, too. You can watch his full interview here.

Lead image via Kevin Love’s Facebook page.