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The NBA Player That Had a “Fear of Flying”

Do you remember Royce White, the Houston Rockets first-round pick back in 2012 who never played one regular-season game for the Rockets.

Royce White was definitely talented enough to be on an NBA roster. So why is he out of the league already?

When Royce White was a teenager he was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder and that diagnosis affected his basketball career and would change his life forever

As a high school basketball player, he was rated as one of the best power forwards in the country and he decided to stay home for school so he committed to Minnesota, but he never played one game for Minnesota and his time there wasn’t too great. Royce was under indefinite suspension at the team because he was charged with theft and disorderly conduct at the Mall of America.

Royce ended up leaving the university after he was being investigated for stealing a laptop, so he transferred to play basketball for the Iowa State Cyclones.

Royce is a 6’8’’ 260-pound point forward, he was a smart passer and could initiate offense if he needed too. Royce is really athletic and mobile for a guy of his size. In his one season with Iowa State, he led the team in all statistical categories. Royce was by far their best player and led them to one win in the NCAA championship.

He had a unique playing style that put him in many mock drafts, so he decided to leave school after one year and declare for the draft.

With the 16th pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets selected him but he never played a regular-season game for the team. So what happened?

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Royce’s anxiety disorder is magnified when he is in the air. In high school, he sometimes had panic attacks when traveling by planes and if there was turbulence he said he would be scared out of his mind.

Before the start of his first NBA season with the Rockets in 2012, Royce wanted to take his time adjusting to NBA life because of his disorder. He did not show up on media day or the first week of training camp because he wanted the team’s permission to travel to away games on a bus — to manage his anxiety a bit better.

The flying schedule in the NBA is a lot more frequent than in college, so it was going to be tough for him. Royce was quoted saying “To go from 20 to 98 flights, which is the NBA’s travel schedule, is too much exposure for someone with a phobia”.

He wanted the NBA to address his condition with a policy, he tried to meet with NBA commissioner David Stern to talk more about it, but never got the meeting.

The Houston Rockets did his best to accommodate him without following a certain league standard. But the situation with the Rockets never got better throughout the season. He said the Rockets were inconsistent with the agreement to help him with the anxiety disorder.

Royce ended up getting suspended later in the season because the Rockets were said he was not fulfilling his contract. He never showed up for his d-league assignment because Royce says they did not allow mental health professionals there.

His time with the Rockets simply did not work out. They ended up trading him to the Sixers, but he was waived before the end of the season.

He is currently playing in Canada for the London Lightning.

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