It was one of those rainy summer days when I was babysitting and all the kids wanted to do was sit in the front of the TV. After keeping them away from the TV with the distraction of board games and foosball, I finally gave in to let them watch one program. Being young and athletic, the kids automatically turned into ESPN to watch. I was expecting some re-run of a football game, when a special program came on about Schuye LaRue.
Schuye was a famous women’s basketball player here at UVA starting her collegiate career in 2000. She led UVA to the Sweet 16 her first year, and was named ACC Rookie of the Year. Her second year she was up for the award of national player of the year, and decided to turn professional before her junior season. She traveled over to Italy to start playing professionally when she came back in 2002 abruptly ending her basketball career. Her family was going through a tumultuous time with her brother passing away but she ended up getting a contract in 2003 with the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
(Image Courtesy of Nick Wass from the Washington Post)
However, Schuye’s passion for basketball began to rapidly decline as she stopped going to practices, and eventually was sent home by the team and went back to live with her mother, Barbara LaRue. Ms. LaRue realized something was wrong with Schuye as her love for basketball had been sucked out of her as well as not acting her usual self. Schuye was diagnosed with schizophrenia by a doctor and was put on the proper medication. However, the side effects of the medication was too overwhelming for her so she stopped taking her medication and soon began to exhibit aggressive and experience hallucinations. Ms. LaRue was having such a difficult time with Schuye that Schuye left in 2006. Schuye ended up homeless in Washington D.C. where the ESPN reporter, Shelley Smith, interviewed her several times.
(Image Courtesy of ESPN.com)
Ms. Smith discussed with Schuye several times her difficulties of being homeless, her past, as well as her struggles with getting involved in drugs and a short stint in a mental hospital. Without the proper medication, Schuye is still homeless and struggles with hallucinations and aggressive behavior. She is currently in the Washington D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility for her failure to appear in court for her drug charges.
(Image Courtesy of ESPN.com)
Schuye LaRue, a UVA alumni, had incredible potential in her basketball career both at UVA and professionally but her mental illness eliminated any of her future opportunities both as a basketball player and in a non-athletic career. Her ties with her family have been terminated as Schuye struggles with her schizophrenia without the assistance she needs. Schuye’s story hits close to home as a UVA basketball player that struggled unnecessarily with mental illness because of a diagnosis too late and her struggles with either taking her medication or not having access to it. There is so much potential Schuye still has if she was getting the necessary treatment she needed. Her tale reminds us all of the importance of mental illness and the detrimental effects it can not only have on the individual who is struggling but also the individual’s family, friends, future, and community. We all need to be heighten our awareness of mental illness and the impact it can have, whether it be schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any others. It is time for each one of us to fight not only for ourselves if we struggle with mental illness but for one another to act lovingly and kindly. It is time for a cure to all mental illness so every individual may fulfill his or her potential and live a beautiful and happy life. (Image Courtesy of Visionsteen.com)
For more information on Schuye LaRue’s story by ESPN please visit http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/feature/article/20162095/schuye-larue-living-streets-washington-dc-want-your-help. For more information on Schuye’s career at UVA, please visit http://www.virginiasports.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/larue_schuye00.html. For more information on mental illness and be able to contribute to research, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions.
(Thumbnail Photo Courtesy of BasketSession.com)