Trigger Warning: talk of suicide and other triggering mental health conditions
Ben Jordan was a 22-year-old, Division I, 2-sport athlete at the University of Kentucky who had many things going for his life. Being a pitcher for the Wildcats baseball team and a walk-on for arguably one of the best college basketball teams in the NCAA, there was lots of talent and opportunity in Jordan’s life. Sadly, on the night of January 10th, Ben Jordan took his own life. It is unknown why Jordan felt the need to end his life, with former teammate Brennan Canada saying, “This just doesn’t seem real… we had just talked.”
Jordan joined the basketball team in 2019 as a walk-on after head coach John Calipari broke the news of shortages in frontcourt players who were offered a scholarship. Jordan was a 2-sport athlete in high school as well, so this was nothing new to him. Calipari explains that along with being a fantastic pitcher, Jordan was a big man, 6-foot-9, who is “basketball savvy” and is the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at his high school in Olive Hill, Kentucky. Calipari even told one of the team’s biggest players, EJ Montgomery, “When [Jordan] gets in better shape, he will be able to dunk over you.”
According to statistics from “Athletes for Hope”- an organization that encourages athletes to be active in helping their community and spread awareness for different charitable causes- only 10% of college athletes suffering from symptoms of mental health conditions reach out and ask for help. It is a common belief among the population that because exercise is proven to reduce symptoms of mental health conditions, that most or may athletes do not suffer from these conditions. This belief however is not true, with 35% of elite, professional athletes, saying that they suffer from some type of severe symptom of a mental health condition.
Athletes have started to become more outspoken about dealing with mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, and drug or alcohol abuse. Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps talked about dealing with thoughts of suicide while in rehab for alcohol abuse after being arrested for his 2nd DUI in 2014. He encouraged athletes to reach out for help. Even former Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, talked about how playing football and being injured made him realize that he was going through an unhealthy cycle of mental health struggles after his surprise retirement.
“It is difficult for me to express and to put into words what a tragedy it is to lose a young person too early. Ben impacted our team last season in so many ways with his kind heart, his big smile, and his wonderful personality,” says Calipari in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon following the school’s announcement of Jordan’s passing. Similarly, Wildcats head baseball coach, Nick Mingione, says, “There are no words to express the shock and heartache our team write papers is feeling with the loss of Ben. He was an absolute joy to coach and be around. His coaches, teammates, and brothers loved him dearly. His smile, sense of humor, and love for this university will never be forgotten. He will be missed beyond measure,”