Tyrell Terry, Mavericks’ 2020 No. 31 pick, retires from basketball at 22: ‘It began to destroy me’

Tyrell Terry, the Dallas Mavericks' 2020 No. 31 pick, retired from basketball on Thursday with a heartfelt message posted to Instagram that cited his struggle with anxiety.

“Today I decided to let go of the game that has formed a large part of my identity. Something that has guided my path since I took my first steps,” Terry wrote.

“While I have achieved amazing accomplishments, created unforgettable memories, and made lifelong friends … I’ve also experienced the darkest times of my life. To the point where instead of building me up, it began to destroy me.”

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The message captioned photos that chronicled Terry’s short career. The post included photos from his time as a young hooper in his hometown of Minneapolis, then De La Salle High School, Stanford and eventually Dallas.

Terry spent one season with the Mavericks and appeared in 11 games. He missed some games due to “personal reasons,” before he was waived.

He also played for the G League and made two appearances with the Memphis Grizzlies.


Terry was an exciting draft prospect who surprised many when he declared for the draft and became Stanford University’s first one-and-done in program history. There, he averaged 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He also recorded the top free throw percentage (.891) in the Pac-12.

He was seen breaking down on ESPN’s draft broadcast when his name was called by the Mavericks.

“I began to despise and question the value of myself, much more than those surrounding me could ever see or know,” Terry wrote.


He also described difficult symptoms, including “intrusive thoughts, waking up nauseous, and finding myself struggling to take normal breaths because of the rock that would sit on my chest that seemed to weigh more than I could carry.”

Terry’s message explained that while he may be known “as a bust, a failure, or a waste of talent,” he is grateful to those that supported him and apologizes to those he “let down.”

Sep 27, 2021; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Tyrell Terry (1) poses for a photo during the Dallas Mavericks media day at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Former Dallas Mavericks guard Tyrell Terry retires at 22 years old. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Mental health in the NBA

The league got even more candid about mental health in 2018, when Demar DeRozan tweeted, “This depression get the best of me…” He later talked with the Toronto Star about his struggle with mental health. That interview inspired Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love to write an essay for the Players Tribune, titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something.”


Together, DeRozan and Love sparked an ongoing conversation that led the NBPA to launch a new mental health and wellness program a few months later.

Kensa Gunter began to serve as the director of the NBA’s Mind Health mental health and wellness program in 2020 and spoke with the Washington Post about the humanization of athletes.

“Being excellent and being elite doesn’t absolve you from being human,” she said. “We think, if you have access to all of these financial resources, if you are living in the public eye and you are exceptionally talented on the court and able to do these remarkable things the rest of us could only dream about, how could you have any issues? This chips away at that idea that people are successful because they don’t experience adversity and rather humanizes that conversation by saying, ‘This person who is successful also deals with challenges and learning how to manage and navigate those challenges is part of what contributes to their success journey.’ ”