Jerry West talks about abusive father and lifelong struggle with depression
West said he wanted to share some of the negative aspects of his life, because you don’t see that in a lot of books on athletes. But he wanted to show young people a path to success. “It has been a pretty tormented life for me,” West said. “I think at this point of my life, it’s important to talk about it.”
West talked about his relationship with his father, who was very abusive. “I was afraid to come home,” West said. “I didn’t want to come home. I felt completely useless. I describe myself to friends of myself as a stray dog.”
West said eventually he got to the point where he had to stand up to his father. “I did get to the point where I very defiant,” West said.
West said that he told his father at one point “if you ever touch me again, I am going to kill you.” West said he had a loaded shotgun under his bed.
West talked about basketball as an escape. “It was a place I could get lost,” West said, crediting his imagination to helping him become such a clutch player.
West said that the Lakers became like a family for him. West said that things changed when they moved from the Forum to the Staples Center. And owner Jerry Buss took a step back, and he missed that relationship. “Toward the end, I had no relationship with Phil [Jackson],” West said.
West said he had an extremely close bond with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. And he knew Jackson didn’t want him around. West told the story that one time he walked by the locker room and Jackson said an obscenity and get out of the locker room. West said that’s when he knew it was time to go. West said when he left, the weight of the world was off his shoulders.