Bronx native discusses basketball and mental health amid COVID-19

Gun Hill native Marcus Patterson playing overseas. (Photo courtesy Luis Azevedo.)


The stigma of depression is real, even with athletes.

A Bronx native, who plays hoops overseas, spoke about the sport and how it has impacted his mental health.

Marcus Patterson, 25, was born and raised in Gun Hill. He grew up seeing kids get shot, stabbed, using and dealing drugs and many people he knew went to jail.

Fortunately, in middle school, he found basketball.

Photo courtesy MSG Varsity

“I grew up watching my brothers play,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be like my brothers.” Patterson has five brothers, including Tyshawn, who played ball at Stetson University.

He played at MS 113 and then at Mt. St. Michael Academy. While the team won the championship his sophomore year, he still wasn’t happy.

“I just didn’t have the guidance I needed as a kid, especially growing up in the Bronx,” he said. “I didn’t really talk to anyone about what I was going through.”

After high school he played basketball at Sage College in Albany. According to Patterson, he had the talent to succeed, but had poor confidence.

“Going through what I did made me fall out of love with the game,” he said.

The team won a championship his sophomore year, yet he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do upon graduation.

His girlfriend encouraged him to play professionally and he heeded her advice.

Patterson went abroad and played for the England Bucs in the National Basketball League and at the same time, obtained his masters in psychology from the University of East London. At that point, he finally began to surround himself with good people, read self help books and found himself in a better place mentally.

But, about a year and a half ago, he partially tore his ACL, ending his season. He left England and moved to New Jersey with his mom, Jennifer Caldwell, grandmother, Eastdel Graham, wife, Nicole and his aunt.

This was a whole new experience and it changed him. It was much quieter than the Bronx. He worked with Joe Ross, who trains people such as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and worked his way back to shape.

With his mental and physical health doing much better, he chose to continue his career. He forked over $3,000 and in September 2019 went to play for Portimonense S.C in Portugal.

The season was going great, but it was canceled in March because of COVID-19.

“I wasn’t ready to come back home yet,” Patterson said.

When the crisis dies down, he plans to return. He credits his success due to him working on his mental health. He told the Bronx Times he still has a long way to go and plans to talk to a therapist.

“It’s [mental health] extremely important,” he said. “It will take you far in life. You’ll be able to focus on what really makes you happy. I just want people to know even if they have been through struggles and tribulations, see it through and face those challenges.”

This story first appeared on bxtimes.com.