By: Ramzy Kawaja
To overcome an obsticle, you must first accept the possibility of failure. The fear of losing can be enough to keep your dreams at a safe distance. Royce White doesn’t have the option to place everything he’s afraid of in a small chest locked in the back of his mind to easily ignore. The case is always wide open as a reminder that there are things in this world that can’t be controlled. Ever since seeing his best friend collapse to the floor and convulsing during wind-sprints, White has been battling an anxiety disorder and wasn’t officially diagnosed with the illness till 2008, when he turned 17. It has gotten so bad for White that he wakes up three or four times per night.
Surely, suffering this traumatic experience at such a young age will change a person. Royce gives off the vibe that he understands at any given moment, this precious thing we call life can easily cease to exist. That’s why he’s always so humble and appreciative of everything he has. One cannot imagine White wasting the opportunity he has with the Houston Rockets. It’s not his athleticism, his jumper, his size or speed that has gotten him to where he is now. It’s the dedication to honing his craft and the fear that it could all disappear in a flash that drives and motivates White.
Named “Minnesota Mr. Basketball” in 2009, White led Hopkins High School to a perfect 32-0 record and a State Championship. The early success earned him scholarships to prestigious schools like Texas, Purdue, Iowa St, Minnesota and others. White opted to attend the University of Minnesota, but a guilty plea to theft, due to an incident at the Mall of America, got him suspended. The final straw was when White was suspected of stealing laptops from the school. Royce decided to transfer, in the ’09-’10 season, to Iowa State where he became the only player in division 1 basketball to lead his team in every major statistical category. After the 2011-12 Big 12 conference season, he was unanimously named the Big 12 “Newcomer of the Year” and was also an honorable mention for the All-American team by the Associated Press.
All this might sound like the ideal start to a young man’s life but Royce White’s mental issue has kept him from winning an NCAA title. University of Kentucky head coach, John Calipari, phoned White and convinced him to pursue his career with the Wildcats. But Royce’s fear of flying had too much of a strangle-hold on him to allow him to take a step onto the airplane. Not willing to confront his fears in order to make a bigger name for himself, Royce stayed at Iowa State where he finished his collegiate career. Calipari and Kentucky, of course, went on to win the NCAA tournament.
Who knows what would’ve happened had White put his foot down and stood up to his agoraphobia? A golden chance at history was missed. It’s moments like this that shape men who frantically spend their entire lives trying to fit the mold they’ve created for themselves. Obviously, Royce’s has since had to overcome his fear of flying to join his fellow draftees in Las Vegas for the Summer League games. This is a huge step in the direction where Royce White envisions his future self. Not only being a great basketball player, but being a great person living a normal life.