He was in a Jack in the Box parking lot, donning a infirmary garment and no shoes, when a follower approached him. His attentions persisted closed for two drawings, after having “wander[ ed] wall street of Houston” for some time. He was asked whether he was the Delonte West, the eight-year, well-known NBA alum. To that topic, he responded yes, and no.

It was indeed West, who’s NBA career terminated about four years ago, when he and the Dallas Mavericks parted roads. You perhaps recollect West as the Cleveland Cavalier who may or may not have had an liaison with teammate LeBron James’ mother during James’ firstly stint in Ohio. You may recollect West as the person who was arrested after swerving his motorcycle in front of a officer car, then, upon pursuit, experienced loaded with a variety of weapons. And perhaps you even recollect him as the guy LeBron had to talk down during rehearsal one day, after he was going through heavy psychological disturbance when divorcing his longtime significant other.

Answering the fan’s interrogation the coming week, the ex-NBA musician apparently, tragically, articulated: “I used to be[ Delonte West ], but I’m not about that life anymore.” That love went on to write about the incident on social media, joking that “bro had hospital robe on like he escaped from the psych ward or some s ***. I questioned wat happened and he said life…….d ***! ” The post has since been deleted.

But for the sake of this musician, who has had his most intimate, personal tests strung out in the glaring public light-headed for all to see and magistrate, for the sake of this humankind who was diagnosed with bipolar illness eight years ago and, crucially, for the sake of all those other men and women suffering from diseases like West’s, this incident dishes as a necessary, timely reminder that there is good-for-nothing joke about mental illness or those who are afflicted by it.

West was solid in the NBA for years, especially throughout his tenure with the Gallant. He was the backcourt copulate to LeBron right as he was peaking — in those pre-Miami seasons when LeBron was the unblemished, irreproachable savior of all things Cleveland. West killed the three-ball with ease and was one of those gritties, never-say-no actors who’d put their bodies on the line for a apparently futile loose ball in a game’s opening moments.

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But, somehow, things descended apart both quickly and painfully slowly for West. To throw it in cliched expressions, his fall from grace was literally and figuratively like a auto disintegrate — none of us could turn away from evidencing this soul rumple before us, in the motorcycle happen, the hotel room episode or any other of the few of pseudo-scandals that followed West as he battled his illness.

One of the worst places was that you knew he meant well. You knew he was fighting this. As the Washington Post mentioned last year, a little while after leaving the NBA, he had his pregnant lover move into his home — but leaved his too-few paychecks and the too-high cost of practicalities, the family was forced to endure an East Coast winter without a hot water heater. He devised bathrooms for her by heating ocean up on the stave. He proposed to her exploiting a sliced-off portion of start tether, reportedly doing, “It’s all I can yield, newborn. I’m divulged, hot ain’t acting, psyche ain’t wielding right, but I love you.”

The Washington Post via Getty Images
Delonte West with his wife Caressa and son Cash constituted for a photo at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas.

This, of course, isn’t the first time health professionals contestant has surfaced in the chitchat columns with clues of mental distress. It isn’t even the first time for West. But in a macrocosm in which oft injurious hot takes rack up retweets and shares on social media, this sad update on Delonte West is a reminder that mental illness does not differentiate — it sidled its practice into the heads and nerves of our friends and our heroes, those we grab lunch with every week and the idols we watch on the hardwood every weekend.

So next time you remember the Delonte West incidents of 2009, 2010 and 2016 — all those rumors and all that gossip, all his denials and all his admittances — remember that this was a guy who had acquired it. Who was one of the uncommon few to actually achieve his reveries — to check off the top aim on his laundry list and play among the very best of the basketball world.

He had his life and his vocation before him, before everything there is originated crashing down. His sicknes is, inherently, an unbelievably private one — but his position moved it public. And because of that, it’s now all of its own responsibilities to consider him with respect, were told that such an affliction can reach any of us at any time, even when we think we have it all: even when each of us is making proverbial 3-pointers in our respective living and business. Delonte West is one of us. Delonte West could be any one of us. So where reference is see this human “wandering” through fast food parking lots, missing a pair of shoes and wearing that hospital costume, we need to stop laughable and start understand better what we can do to help.

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