This article is a part of HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, NBC Sports multi-platform initiative on mental health and men's health. NBC Sports Washington will be releasing a series of original short-form features that are all available at nbcsportswashington.com/headstrong.
When Ryan Brant was growing up, lacrosse was the sport he grew to love at the age of five. Originally an attacker, he transitioned to goalie after his older brothers strapped a baseball catcher's chest protector to him.
He played high school lacrosse at DeMatha, then committed to Ohio State.
While on scholarship there, things took a turn for the worst.
"Everything was going great until I got a shot on the inside of my knee, where I previously had two screws, and my screws shattered," Brant said. "So I went through my second and third knee surgery within three months of each other."
From there, his scholarship was revoked because according to the college, he was a "medical liability" to the team.
"You deal with the loss of self-identity," Brant said. "You try to figure out who you are."
He spiraled into a deep depression, and his parents didn't notice until they recognized he was more withdrawn around them.
"At that time, it was like feeling empty," Brant commented. "You think you are like a low life. You don't think you have a value or self-worth, which is hard."
Part of that struggle to seek help for his depression came from the stigma around it, and the stereotype surrounding athletes that they always have to put on a brave face no matter their circumstances.
"When you're an athlete, you gotta be the tough, macho person," Brant recalled. "I learned the hard way you gotta ask for help."
After he got help, Brant created Positive-Strides, which seeks to help athletes who have undergone a career-threatening or ending athletic injury get the mental health assistance they need.
"It's extremely hard, but being able to walk them away from the ledge and looking back on it and seeing them, like you can't put a price tag on that."