Maybe Royce White’s legacy won’t be basketball

Royce White, the former Mr. Basketball in Minnesota whose struggles with mental illness have been well documented since he was picked in the NBA draft last year, has inspired others talk about mental illness.

In Des Moines today, an Iowa legislator used an appearance by White to reveal that she declined an Iowa teacher of the year award because of her struggles with mental illness.

“I carried that in my heart as a secret until today,” Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines said. “This is the first time I’ve ever publicly admitted that that was the real reason why I wasn’t selected as national teacher of the year. Royce White gave me the courage to stand up and speak out about my own issue.”

White’s NBA career is probably closer to ending than beginning. He battled the Houston Rockets through most of the year on travel issues, never played for them, and finally accepted an assignment to the team’s developmental league squad, only to walk out shortly before the playoffs.