Parkland shooting prompted NBA star Kevin Love to open up about mental health

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has been an NBA All-Star five times, but his most recent selection to the coveted roster came during what he calls the worst year of his life. 

This past winter, Love was struggling. A fractured hand kept him off the court for several weeks as questions abounded regarding his trustworthiness as a teammate and ability to play in the league. He shut out the media and shared very little about himself outside the game of basketball. He hated going out in public. 

Despite his injury preventing him from playing, Love still made the trek to Los Angeles for All-Star Weekend festivities in mid-February -- and that's when he heard the news of the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.

On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz, then 19, opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 students and staff members. Two days later, All-Star Weekend began. 

"I'm getting put into my clothes for the event that day and Parkland, Florida, was on the TV," he told AOL.com. "I'm like, 'Wow, what is that kid going through?'"

SEE ALSO: Kevin Love opens up about the days following his 2017 panic attack

The Parkland shooting and the All-Star Game occurred mere months after Love had suffered a severe and very public health scare. Love removed himself from the Cavaliers' home game against the Atlanta Hawks on November 5, 2017, after experiencing shortness of breath, dry mouth and a racing heartbeat. 

"It was like my body was trying to say to me, 'You’re about to die,'" he later explained

After undergoing multiple tests at the Cleveland Clinic, Love was told he had experienced a panic attack. Fast-forward to February and Love was still hiding the diagnosis from the masses while rumors continued to swirl about what had happened. 

It wasn't until the tragedy in Parkland that Love started to think about sharing his story. 

See Love through his career: 

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Kevin Love through his career
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Kevin Love through his career
ARCHIVO - En esta foto del 19 de octubre del 2018, el alero de los Cavaliers de Cleveland Kevin Love hace un tiro libre en un partido de la NBA contra los Timberwolves de Minnesota. (AP Foto/Jim Mone)
UCLA's Kevin Love (C) eyes a rebound with Washington State's Daven Harmeling (L) and Kyle Weaver during their NCAA basketball game in Los Angeles January 12, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
UCLA's Kevin Love laughs during a timeout in the first half of their NCAA baskeball game against USC at the PAC-10 tournament in Los Angeles March 14, 2008. Love was the high scorer for the game with 19 points as UCLA won the game 57-54 to advance to the final on Saturday. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello (UNITED STATES)
UCLA Bruins' Kevin Love celebrates their win over Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the end of their NCAA men's West Regional basketball game in Phoenix, Arizona, March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
UCLA center Lorenzo Mata-Real (14) holds up the West Regional trophy as he celebrates with teammates James Keefe (L), Kevin Love (4th R) and head coach Ben Howland (R) after defeating Xavier Musketeers in their NCAA men's West Regional basketball game in Phoenix, March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri (UNITED STATES)
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love smiles during a timeout in the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in the Target Center in Minneapolis January 29, 2011. Love scored 21 points, and the Timberwolves won over the Raptors. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
NBA basketball player Kevin Love, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, arrives at the 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California, July 13, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ENTERTAINMENT BASKETBALL)
Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves competes in the three-point contest during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando, Florida, February 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
NBA player Kevin Love accepts his award during the 27th Anniversary Sports Spectacular benefiting Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SPORT BASKETBALL)
Deron Williams (L) and Kevin Love (R) both of the U.S. joke around with teammate Anthony Davis (C) during the men's preliminary round Group A basketball match against Nigeria at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT BASKETBALL)
Nov 16, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) smiles and congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin (23) after making a three point shot in the second half against the Boston Celtics at Target Center. The TImberwolves won 106-88. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) is guarded by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) injures his shoulder during the first half in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics. at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) juggles a loose ball during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Cavaliers won 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 23, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) and forward LeBron James (23) react in the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
March 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots a basket against Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during the first quarter in game two of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) enters the arena before game five of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
June 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kevin Love (0) celebrate the 93-89 and series victory against the Golden State Warriors following game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-06-20T032523Z_2053546459_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-FINALS-CLEVELAND-CAVALIERS-AT-GOLDEN-STATE-WARRIORS.JPG
Nov 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 128-90. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 21, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kevin Love (0) celebrate during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in game three of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) poses for a portrait during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 08: Kevin Love #0, LeBron James #23 and Jeff Green #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers look on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 8, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 27: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on December 27, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 28: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the Detroit Pistons on January 28, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: LeBron James #23 and Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers react on the bench in the second half against the Boston Celtics during Game Two of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 06: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a jumper over Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 19: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 19, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Cavaliers 131-123. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love (0) poses for a portrait during the NBA basketball team's media day, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Independence, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
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"It's very scary, seeing the mass shootings," he said. "Just last week, again and again. There's so much sh-- happening and so much unrest."

Several concerns about the Parkland shooter's mental health, including incidents of self-harm and issues with anger, were made public after the massacre.

"I don't think it's outlandish to say that had [Cruz] had help and coping mechanisms early on and better people to go to, maybe that's preventable," Love said. "Maybe not in all cases, because some people just like to watch the world burn, but I think it's not outlandish to say that kid could've been helped."

In March, shortly after fellow NBA player DeMar DeRozan revealed his battle with depression, Love penned an essay for The Players' Tribune that dove into his own mental health struggles. He expanded on several topics he had mentioned to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan during All-Star Weekend, including that he had been speaking to a therapist for several months. 

Since then, Love has become an outspoken advocate for mental wellness. In October, he launched the Kevin Love Fund in order to help people improve their mental, emotional and physical health. Love has also partnered with Schick Hydro to produce a webisode series called Locker Room Talk, part of Schick Hydro's Man I Am campaign, where he discusses mental health and positive masculinity with other athletes. 

"It's American sports, but it's also the social climate that we're in," Love said of the need to discuss mental health issues. "The NBA is at the forefront of that."

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