Royce White, the NBA rookie recently drafted to play for the Houston Rockets, is catching attention again because of his anxiety, this time after he requested permission to travel to close road games by bus due to his fear of flying. While White has already gotten on several planes with his new team over the summer, flying is stressful for him, and he says he’d prefer to avoid it whenever possible as part of a “more healthy work environment.”
White, who has generalized anxiety disorder and OCD, explained, “It’s honest to just say, ‘I have some anxiety.’ It’s a whole different level of honesty to say to the Rockets, ‘I have anxiety, and this is what I need to do to be healthy and can you accommodate me?’ I felt that it was necessary to take that step.”
White’s skill is undeniable—people are already speculating that he’ll have a spot on the NBA All-Rookie team—but he’s always been upfront that he brings his anxiety along with his talent. This makes him a fascinating figure in sports, since athletes are often conditioned to mask their fears and weaknesses. But White does his best to be candid, both because he says he wants to be a role model for kids and because he believes getting the support he needs will make him a better player. Fortunately it looks like he has found a team that thinks the same way. The Rockets knew about White’s anxiety and fear of flying before they drafted him, and they have agreed to let him drive to games whenever possible. Here’s wishing them luck.