New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson spoke Monday during the team’s media day for the first time about the apparent suicide of his girlfriend, Gia Allemand.
Allemand, best known as a contestant on the TV reality show “The Bachelor,” died Aug. 14. She was 29. Anderson, who’s in his second year with New Orleans’ NBA team, found her in her New Orleans home, her family said, and called 911. She died while on life support.
Anderson — who was expected to give a statement then receive basketball-related questions only — began by saying: “Every day has been a challenge; it helps to be here.
“My family’s with me. To be here with my teammate helps a lot. But it’s a roller coaster.”
Training camp starts Tuesday. Anderson, who finished second in the NBA last season in 3-pointers, is in the second-year of a four-year, $32 million contract and is an integral part of the team.
Although being around his teammates and playing basketball helps, he was asked if dealing with the tragedy makes it difficult to perform on the court. His comments suggested he’s undergoing counseling.
“Praise God every day to have him in my life,” he said. “It would be very, very hard to get through these steps if I didn’t have God and Jesus Christ in my life. ...
“You know when you’re thinking about something or preparing for something, and it seems a lot more difficult, and then when you go through it, and you overcome it? Kind of every step of the way has been like that. Even this coming here.”
Anderson said coach Monty Williams contacted him and asked him to join the team, which has been participating in workouts and pickup games much of the summer. Anderson said he has been participating a few weeks.
“Being in the gym, having a routine, helps a little bit,” he said.
But it’s been a lengthy process, he added. Anderson paused for about one minute, the tears flowing. Then he said that Allemand’s family and his are in the process of starting a foundation in her name. Without actually saying the word “suicide,” he said it’s a bigger problem than many in society may realize.
According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in the United States among adults age 25-34.
“We’re in the process of doing something great in her name that is going to help a lot of people,” Anderson said. “This is a topic that is not talked about enough.”
He said the need to live up to expectations is a huge problem in America.
“We live in a society now where you’ve got to live up to something, you’ve got to be a certain person, and you’re not going to be accepted,” he said. “And every single person has something special about them. And that’s what I want to be my goal here — to let everybody know that they’re not alone. Whatever you’re going through in life, you’re not alone.”
He said that will be the basis of the foundation in Allemand’s name.