MINNEAPOLIS – Kyle Guy has a tattoo on his right thigh of his favorite movie, "The Lion King".
The tattoo has the words Swahili, Sisi or Sawa, written across his leg. That translates into one of the mottos of Guy's life about humility and service: "We are the same."
"My goal in life is to help someone," says the Virginia escort. "I always say that the motivation is short-term, the inspiration is long-term."
That's why Guy opened publicly last April, posting on social networks a couple of letters in which revealed his soul about the anguish he experienced before and after the historic loss of Virginia, the number 1 in Virginia. .
He wrote in part: "Not everyone knows, but you have been taking medication for your anxiety attacks all season, you kept it a secret because you did not want to be seen weak, you were worried that people might think you were not made for this. .. You can think that, they were not with you when they burst into tears in the middle of the practice and you did not know why, they are not all part of your story, because I do not know your story. "
The Virginia escort, Kyle Guy, is the epitome of going from the bottom of the rock in a sport to the top. (Photo: Shanna Lockwood, USA Today Sports)
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Except that Guy's story has been front and center in Virginia's remarkable career to a national championship.
And on Monday night, he could not have gone any further, being named the best final player of the four finalists as the Cavaliers defeated Texas Tech 85-77 for the first male national championship of the school. He scored 24 points and played the 45 minutes.
On Saturday in the semifinal, his six points in seven seconds helped the Cavaliers survive in Auburn. His three free throws that win games with 0.6 seconds have been recorded in the history of college basketball as the definition of coldness under pressure. Teammate Ty Jerome called the moment "a testament to his mental strength."
On the way, however, the UMBC memory remained. And although he admitted Monday night that "we all had our own battles," none of them became as public as Guy's.
"I wrote the letters (last year) and tried to do something that was therapeutic for me, to be able to recover and be stronger as a person," Guy said before Monday's game. "I think you've seen the growth of that."
Despite feeling "terrified" when advancing in the free throw line with three attempts against Auburn, Guy says that facing his fears became natural due to his own development.
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"If you move away, that's when the anxiety will come and persecute you," says Guy. "I'm not going away, I'm sure of myself, of my faith, of my family, I'm not going to be afraid of anything."
That has not been easy. Guy called this "change of 180" in April to April because of the way he and his teammates were perceived at the national level. Last year, the Cavaliers were the laughingstock of college basketball. Now they are a story of perseverance that extends outside the basketball court and encourages those who do not get up.
"Last year I was on my knees crying, and this year I've been doing the same with tears of joy.The more adversity you can overcome in your life, the better you will go," says Guy. "Although sometimes we avoid adversity, if we can face it in front we can become a better person. "
Guy says that outsourcing what's happening on a regular basis has been a life change, be it in the open letters, to his fiancée Alexa Jenkins, or his therapist, sports psychologist in Virginia, Dr. Jason Freeman.
"It helps me talk about what I'm going through, it may not help everyone, that's why I wrote those letters, why I wanted to be a beacon of hope for others.
"That means more to me than anything I can do on the basketball court, to be able to help someone who is suffering. I do not intend to walk in anyone's shoes, but I know that sometimes it's not easy. My message to people who are going through something, and I hope you have seen it with our story, with my story, is that when you are in a dark place, you can definitely come out on top. It becomes lighter. The main thing is that you are not alone. "
However, Guy's national focus does not change his mission. It makes it more important.
"What he's doing when he opens up to the world about his struggles is to save lives," says Simone Lambert, president of the American Counseling Association. "Their willingness to share will have a lasting impact on so many lives and on many young minds, thinking:" Oh, my God, if he can get over it, I can. It's a powerful gift he has. " I'm sure it's amazing in basketball. But this is much bigger because people who seem to be successful in the eyes of the public may also be struggling with an invisible mental health problem. "
Lambert says the 21-year-old's example is powerful.
"Kyle plays a special role, inspiring other men by showing great self-care," he says, "but it's also very important for those with a visible platform to destigmatize." There is no health, no mental health. Knowing chronic illnesses and disabilities Now experiencing mental illness is just as important to share He is encouraging others to follow in. In doing what he is doing, he is really modeling to others the fact that he did not create this anxiety. It's part of your genetic predisposition or environmental circumstances. "
For the first part of his career, Guy says he internalized everything where self-hatred became natural. Then the UMBC happened, and he could no longer hide what he had been bottling. Then he wrote: "I was struck by an overwhelming sense of sadness, anxiety and failure, all the sensations of that exact moment consumed me and I was no longer in control of my emotions, I was crying uncontrollably, it was like sugar." A streak of desolation. While I was in the midfield and UMBC was piling up on the court, I felt isolated. I was separated from reality. (Companion) From & # 39; Andre Hunter literally had to drag me and accompany me off the field …, I went to sit in the showers and cry alone. "
Death threats and social media criticism only increased Guy's guilt as a result of a loss that ultimately inspired this year's Final Four Race.
"That game changed my life for the better," says Guy, "because I did not have to, but I chose to go out and talk about mental health and anxiety." Actually, that loss made me closer to my girlfriend, my family, God, and helped me open up to everyone. "
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