The greatest athletes are all about controlling the body with the mind, and for a long time, Chamique Holdsclaw could do that. She could hover around the basketball rim and create any shot, her imagination pulling the strings of her arms and legs. Then one morning, her mind quit on her. She couldn’t make herself put on a pair of shoes, much less elevate. She lost track of three straight days sitting on a couch in the dark, eating Fruity Pebbles. The devastating onset of depression was “my little secret,” she says.
It’s not her little secret anymore. It’s the subject of a big-hearted autobiography called “Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot After Shot,” and in it, Holdsclaw details her mortal struggle with despair, including her nervous breakdown as a star with the Washington Mystics in 2004, and a never-before disclosed suicide attempt when she played for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2006. The WNBA season will open Friday without Holdsclaw on a roster; the former No. 1 draft pick and six-time all-star injured her Achilles’ tendon in 2010. Instead of rehabilitating to get back to the court she has devoted her time to the rehabilitation of her head. The result is a different kind of comeback, a riveting confessional of how a vulnerable mind undid a strong body, but how a different brand of strength is winning out.