New Orleans Pelicans Ryan Anderson is trying move on with his life after his girlfriend and reality television star Gia Allemand committed suicide last August after a heated argument with the power forward.
A year on from the date and the 29-year-old Anderson has opened up to SI.com about the events that transpired that night and the subsequent bleak days since he lost his girlfriend, he describes the gut-wrenching incident "the most painful experience of my life".
Anderson has spoke about the guilt he felt, Allemand suffered from premenstrual dysphoric disorder, an affliction that reportedly "leads to extreme mood shifts and heightened symptoms of depression before menstruation" and eventually culminated in her suicide in August.
The buzz around New Orleans this season has been the development and impending superstardom of Anthony Davis, the quiet subplot for the Pelicans however is the re-emergence of sharp shooting power forward Anderson.
Anderson suffered a scary neck injury that prematurely ended what had been a career-best 2013-14 campaign, coupled with the on-going struggle of coming to the grips wit the loss of his girlfriend, which he often blames himself for.
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The story unfolds
In a brilliant piece with Sport Illustrated, Anderson recalls the incidents of the fatal night that lead to him discovering the lifeless body of his partner.
The quarrel between the pair began at lunch and grew in strength right until Anderson dropped Allemand off at her apartment, both in a heated discussion had blasted hurtful comments that they would not be able to take back.
Gia had been known for her wild mood swings, she had accused her basketball boyfriend of cheating on her whilst Anderson said comments he immediately regretted, in the fashion that he no longer felt the same love for his girlfriend that he once did.
Alone at home after parting from Allemand, Ryan spoke to a long distance friend who told him he needed some space and should crash at his in Denver.
As he prepared to make the long journey, he received frantic phone calls of his girlfriend's mother and father, they were worried about her and Anderson quickly drove to her apartment.
SI describe the following discovery:
"The first thing Ryan saw upon entering Gia’s fourth-floor apartment were her knees. His recollections of what followed are fragmentary. His screaming and running to her. The vacuum-cleaner cord hanging from the second-floor handrail of the spiral staircase, so tight around her neck that at first he couldn’t loosen it. Gia’s dog, Bentley, running to him. A neighbour arriving and dialling 911 as Ryan tried to revive Gia. Seeing the three-word note in her handwriting on the dining room table: Mom gets everything. Paramedics rushing in. Ryan calling Donna. Donna cursing at him, screaming that he knew Gia was sensitive, that he was supposed to protect her. The police pushing through the door. Ryan answering questions, sobbing, blaming himself. Pelicans coach Monty Williams hurrying in with a team security guard and finding Ryan slumped on the carpet, his back to the door, unable to rise. Williams dropping to his knees and hugging his player, the two men rocking back and forth."
Gia had arrived at hospital but the damage had been too severe, her brain had been without oxygen for too long and she was pronounced dead the next day.
Attempting to move forward
Ryan was grief stricken and looked as though he had nothing left to live for, Donna embraced the 6 ft 10 man and they cried together.
Anderson sharing his heartbreaking story may lighten the burden but it doesn't remove the effects entirely, he's learned that the feelings will not pass but it is necessary to find a way to move forward.
Anderson has explained:
“I’ve been given a platform in the NBA,I know when I’m done playing, people aren’t going to really care about me, the way I shot three-pointers. But during this time when I have a voice, I think it’s really important for me to talk about it.” He continues. "People need to put a face to [suicide prevention and survival], and I’m O.K. being that face.” He pauses. “I’m not overjoyed that I have to talk about the most painful experience of my life, but either I become that face or I tuck [myself] away in a corner and I let this rule over me.”
Anderson's Pelicans next take the court on Friday night, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The power forward has recaptured some of his finest form and he's been shooting the basketball lights out lately.