Lute Olson had a small stroke in the frontal part of his brain in the past year, which resulted in severe depression and changes in judgment, his doctor said today.
Dr. Steven Knope said his motor function "was perfectly normal." In the past few weeks, Knope began to treat what appeared to be depression, to which he did not respond.
Knope said the stroke resulted in "uncharacteristic behavior" over the past few months. He said he believes the stroke occurred some time in the past year.
"He is frankly devastated," Knope said of the 74-year-old Olson. "This is something that is simply beyond his control."
This is truly a sad thing. It also explains a lot. Starting with the abrupt retirement, to Olson's sometimes questionable behavior over the last year. There was the whole strange conflict with interim coach Kevin O'Neill after O'Neill was named the successor-in-waiting of Olson. Olson reportedly was criticizing O'Neill behind his back. Getting rid of O'Neill. The complete overhaul of the coaching staff when he returned -- including terminating Miles Simon, even as Olson denied any culpability. Even the strange recruiting violation.
The anger at Jarryd Bayless' agent when the freshman opted for the NBA Draft. Taking shots at a couple recruits who asked out of their letter of intent or decided to play in Europe.
All of this from a coach that had done everything right for so long, and had managed to keep much of his personal life just that. Everything seemed to invert.
Maybe it doesn't neatly explain everything, but it makes sense of a lot more. Here's hoping that Lute Olson can get the help and support he needs. Despite how bleak it can be, there are treatments and options that can help.
Lute Olson suffered a small stroke before the 2007-2008 season which eventually sidelined him with severe depression. As a result, the 74-year-old head coach retired from the University of Arizona. Olson isn't alone, as many other sports stars have struggled with some kind of mental disorder in their careers.
Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
NBA player Delonte West says he contemplated quitting the team before seeking help for depression and "a mood disorder" he has been battling his entire life. "I felt a feeling of anger and I just wanted to throw it all away and quit the team," West said.
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Philadelphia Eagles lineman Shawn Andrews told a Philadelphia newspaper in August that he's been fighting depression for a year. "It's not something that blossomed up overnight. I'm on medication, trying to get better," said Andrews. Source: AP
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College football legend Herschel Walker documented his struggle with dissociative identity disorder in his 2008 autobiography 'Breaking Free.' He has claimed that due to his disorder, he cannot remember the season he won the Heisman Trophy. Source: AP
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Barret Robbins' NFL career ended in a psychiatric ward before Super Bowl XXXVII. Robbins, seen here in 2005, has received treatment for bipolar disorder, but his present whereabouts are unknown. Source: USA Today
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Frank Bruno, a former boxer who won the WBC heavyweight championship in 1995, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003. Source: Wikipedia, The Guardian
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Former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter washed out of the NFL and was treated for drug addiction and bipolar disorder in 2004. He was arrested on marijuana possession charges in 2007, but is now on the comeback trail and playing football in the Arena Football League. Source: Shreveport Times, Wikipedia
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Former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Alonzo Spellman, who struggled with bipolar disorder during his career, has been in trouble with the law numerous times. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Wikipedia
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Dolphins running back Ricky Williams' social anxiety disorder, which was treated with therapy and medication, played havoc with his football career in the past. Williams has since returned to the Dolphins as a productive player this season. Source: CBS, Wikipedia
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Steelers great Terry Bradshaw was diagnosed with clinical depression nine years ago. After his NFL career ended, Bradshaw admitted that he had frequently experienced anxiety attacks after games. During 2004, he traveled around the U.S. speaking about his depression and his use of the antidepressant Paxil CR. Source: USA Today, AP