|Bill Walton regrets not realizing Junior Seau needed help|
By Tom Weir, USA Today, 6 hrs, 19 min ago
Junior Seau's suicide last week has hit the sports world hard, leaving many friends of the football star wondering whether they could have done something to help him. Among those who is questioning himself is another San Diego sports legend, Bill Walton.
Among athletes, Walton may have a deeper understanding of the pain and possible depression Seau suffered after a lengthy career at one of football's most punishing positions. The basketball Hall of Famer has been very public about his thoughts of suicide while he was bedridden with severe back pain that finally was alleviated by surgery in 2009.
Speaking with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Walton had this to say about how he "failed" his friend:
"I am sad, I am ashamed, I am embarrassed that I wasn't there to tell Junior not to give up ... When I think of the tragic scenario of last week, I only wish I could have done more. I talk to people every day. You can make it. I spend a lot of time talking people back from the brink, from the end of the cliff. It's a duty, a responsibility I have. There is an alternative. I now know tomorrow is going to be better.
"I could never get from Junior that there was pain. He never portrayed that to me. I have failed Junior; I have let him down. But, oh, my gosh, I can tell you that people called me every day trying to help. I'd hang up on them. I didn't want to talk. I turned my back on them. I know now there is a way out, a space. But on the outside, you never saw that something was different with Junior. Now he's gone, and I am sad I didn't help."
Added Walton about his low point:
"But I was right there. If I had a gun, I would have used it. I was on the edge of the bridge, seeing if it was high enough and the ground was hard enough. The difference was that Junior wasn't lying there helpless. I couldn't eat, I couldn't bathe, I couldn't walk. I couldn't do anything.
"I can't begin to re-create how bad it was and how bad it could have been.
I can't comprehend it. First, you think you're going to die. Second, you want to die. Third, you think you're going to live. You see no way out. You go through so many different phases.
"But I am so lucky. I got all the way better. I have no pain. I take no medication. And before the surgery I had no idea what life could be like without back pain. But I pulled back from the edge. I started to get better, and the pain slowly stated to subside. I was able to do things that created a positive foundation that created a life worth living. I'm the lucky one. I got better."