Basketball: Fans, players scramble to save former NBA guard Delonte West

This article deals with mental health problems, including attempted suicide.

Basketball fans and players have called for the NBA to step in and help former guard Delonte West rebuild his life, after social-media video showed him seemingly beaten and arrested in Washington DC.

West, 36, was drafted into the American professional basketball league by the Boston Celtics in 2004 and played almost 500 games over nine seasons with four teams. He enjoyed his best success with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was a teammate of superstar LeBron James and made 38 playoff appearances.

But since dropping out of the NBA in 2012, West, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has apparently fallen on hard times. Three years ago, he was photographed begging in Temple Hills, Maryland, although he later claimed he was simply helping a homeless quadriplegic man. 

LeBron James & Delonte West were teammates at the Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James & Delonte West were teammates at the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo credit: Getty

This week, video has surfaced of him apparently being beaten in the middle of a road. Another shows him shirtless, handcuffed and raving that he had been attacked.

Former St Joseph's University teammate and NBA rival Jameer Nelson has tweeted his fears for his old friend.

"I'm sick to my stomach right now, seeing videos of Delonte," says Nelson. "To answer everybody that's reaching out to me about his situation... all we can do is pray for him and his family, and hope that he seeks the proper help.

"Mental illness is something that a lot of people deal with and don't even know about it, until sometimes it's too late.

"I'm not sure what exactly is going on with DWest, but he knows I'm in his corner and will help him get through this."

Fans on social media have called for more to be done to help - some have even called out James personally to assist his former teammate.

"I see a lot dumb comments where folks making fun of Delonte West," tweeted NFL football star Dez Bryant. "This is not a joking matter.

"I'm going to figure out how I can help him... he need to be in rehab or something."

Another former teammate, Lance Allred, who was the NBA's first deaf player, posted: "Delonte, my man, my teammate, I wish you peace.

"May the world learn compassion and choose to see you as a human being. You showed me kindness and I wish the world could see how kind you are.

"Hang in there."

NBA analyst Jay Williams called for Twitter to block posts with the videos, but others insist exposing West's plight may just save him.

Former St Joseph's coach Phil Martelli responded to Nelson's post.

"Over the past seveal hours, I have talked with many who are willing to help," he tweeted. "Please read and embrace Jameer's wisdown.

"We are reaching out to our basketball network to get the professional help Delonte needs. This is so very painful."

Where to find help and support: Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584