When former pro cyclist Phil Gaimon tweeted about his mental health struggles earlier this month after the news of 23-year-old Olympian Kelly Catlin’s suicide began to circulate, he was shocked at the response. People reached out and said he’d inspired them to get help. “I contributed to the conversation,” he says. “The responses told me that it was sorely needed.” That pro athletes aren’t immune to depression and anxiety may surprise some, but the road to success is often riddled with emotional turmoil. In addition to the unrelenting pressure to perform, athletes talk about a culture of invincibility, in which admitting weakness feels risky and maintaining a veneer of composure is paramount.
Former firefighter Brendan Lyons, whose career was cut short when he was struck by a distracted driver while bicycling, is fighting for a statewide texting and driving ban in Arizona.
Lyons founded the Arizona chapter of the nonprofit Look! Save a Life in 2012 after his work responding to distracted driving incidents inspired him to raise awareness for the cause, which soon became personal for him.
“In a sad twist of irony, almost a year later, I went out for a bike ride with my girlfriend on the morning of her birthday … and a motorist at 45 mph looked down at his cellphone to see who’s calling, drifted into the bike lane and struck us both from behind,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.
Lyons said he suffered spine and pelvis fractures and was treated for a traumatic brain injury, which ended his days as a firefighter.