Tre’Davious White shows courage with honesty about mental health struggles

Athletes, especially the superstar variety, don’t have to work hard to get attention and accolades. In fact, in today’s social media-dominated society, the spotlight is often too invasive. 

However, once an athlete calls it quits and his/her career is rendered to just a bunch of numbers, the spotlight dims. That’s where things can go haywire. 

The effects of multiple concussions, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), is no longer hush-hush and some athletes are willing to open up about another silent demon. And they need to. We all need to. 

Retirement doesn’t have a monopoly on sparking mental health issues, as Shreveport’s own Tre’Davious White recently discovered. The Buffalo Bills cornerback is in his prime, but hasn’t played since he injured his knee in the Superdome on Thanksgiving against the New Orleans Saints nearly one year ago. 

The 27-year-old’s life has revolved around sports — and being really good at them — for more than 20 years, but once he wasn’t able to take the football field, the inner demons had a field day. 

The Green Oaks product questioned his purpose in life and hoped he had more to offer than “putting on a helmet” and swatting passes away or corralling interceptions. It was a depressing time. It still can be, despite the fact he’s healed and likely to see game action very soon. 

White admitted he “locked” himself in his basement, only to be forced out by members of the Bills’ organization. 

“I was in a different space,” White said Wednesday in a raw, riveting session with the media. 

For most of his life, White believed football was his purpose. He’s not alone. 

All too often, athletes believe their value directly correlates with their success on the field. It makes sense, because athletes — from an early age — have countless folks telling them how good they are because they score touchdowns or goals, intercept passes or make a lot of birdies or tackles. 

A bad day on the field then leads to a bad day at home.

The truth is, in the end, none of that means a damn thing.

White struggled to differentiate Tre’Davious the athlete and Tre’Davious the person, despite how easy it is for outsiders to see his worth to his beloved communities – here in Shreveport, and in Buffalo. 

“I’m still trying to make it through it, one day at a time,” White said. 

White praised the support he received, especially from his teammates and loved ones, for being the fuel to attack the knee rehab. 

One well-known friend, former NBC Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, sent a book titled The Obstacle is the Way. 

“It’s about mental toughness, getting through adversity,” White said. “I highly recommend it.” 

The past 12 months have been rough, but White isn’t ready to dub the mental and physical wounds caused by the knee injury as the “worst” battle he’s faced. 

“Coming from where I come from – that’s tough,” White said. “Me making it to where I’m at today is the hardest thing I’ve done.” 

One positive from the injury was the extra family time with sons ages 5 and 3. 

“I got to take them to school and do other things I wouldn’t normally be able to do,” White said. “When I finally ditched the crutches, my son said, ‘Your leg is better? You want to play hide and seek?’ Before, they were running from me, now I’m running with them. It was hard for them to see me down, but they got me through it.” 

Tre’Davious is beginning to understand THIS is the stuff that causes personal value to increase exponentially. 

“No matter what I do, I’m still going to be Dad and they are still going to love on me,” White said. 

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