Former basketball superstar Lauren Jackson, 35, told Four Corners after her early retirement her life “turned to mush”.
ABC’s flagship show blew the whistle on the high price paid for sporting glory.
Jackson, a three-time WNBA MVP and four-time Olympic medallist said the pressure to perform through injuries forced her to turn to prescription painkillers.
“Having to get off everything was really, really, really hard,” she said.
“One of my good friends from America said to me: ‘you know athletes die two times’ and it’s true.
“For your entire life, you’re being told you’re the best, you’re the greatest. Then all of a sudden, there’s no one there.”
Reflecting on the joy of her newborn baby Harry, Jackson said, “I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to me.”
Cricket World Cup winning fast bowler Nathan Bracken also revealed he hit rock bottom after a crippling knee injury ended a 116 game international career. “I felt a failure,” said Bracken, who likewise admitted he had thoughts of suicide.
SCA Director and former Melbourne Football Club Chaplain Cameron Butler said, “The need to effectively care for the whole person in Australian sport has never been greater.” Adding, “A lot of work needs to be done for our athletes during their careers and into retirement, but, most significantly, in the formative years of young athletes whereby they build a strong personal identity outside of the shifting sands of performance.”
SCA is soon to launch a significant partnership with a major sport in Victoria to assist in sport-wide pastoral care.
See the entire Four Corners show here.