On Wednesday, February 8, I was lucky to have been in attendance during a showing of Mind|Game on Millsaps Campus. The film focuses on Chamique Holdsclaw and her battle to overcome manic depression and bipolar disorder, which likely stems from genetics and traumatic childhood events.
The beginning of the film tells the story of how Chamique Holdsclaw and her brother came to live at her Grandmother’s house, which is where she first began to play basketball. The police arrived at her house when her mother had not returned home and Chamique walked into the kitchen to find her father passed out on the floor. She was removed from her home, lost touch with her mother, and developed an anger that she could take out only on the basketball court. This anger was constant, so she was constantly practicing.
Her talent developed and she became the star at her high school. She was then recognized by Pat Summit of the University of Tennessee who recruited Holdsclaw in 1995. It was here that she first recognized that her obsession was unhealthy and that she may have a deeper issue. Following college, she was selected as the #1 draft pick in the WNBA by the Mystics. Here, her disease worsened as she was no longer on a winning team. Failure, as she mentioned in the film, is one of the triggers of her manic depression.In 2002, a new trigger was introduced into her life, her Grandmother passed away. She grew close to her mother once again, but never allowed herself to grieve properly.
Instead, she played for a team in Spain, and then was put on the LA Sparks where she grew close to a player on their rival team–Jennifer Lacy. Their relationship developed, but Holdsclaw grew worse, so much so that she nearly took her own life. She fought against her own disease and began informing others of the internal conflict that athletes go through when deciding whether or not to seek help. There is an issue of seeming weak that many athletes fear will make them appear fragile.
Despite all of the good that she was able to do for others, her own conflict worsened and she was arrested after beating and shooting her now, ex girlfriend Jennifer Lacy’s car. Her arrest was eye-opening though as she became aware of how much worse her condition had gotten. Lacy forgave her and she was then able to move on, inform others, and seek more help. It was here that she learned that she also had bipolar disorder. With the help of a female body builder who is also battling bipolar disorder, Chamique has been able to check her emotions and gain a little bit of control in an uncontrolled situation.
I believe that director Rick Goldsmith did a terrific job telling the story of Chamique Holdsclaw. Anybody who engages with this film will learn about the, often times, private struggles that athletes go through in order to appear less human-like and more god-like during a game. A game, however, is not worth a life, and many need to be made aware of that.
I feel that Goldsmith’s ability to utilize photos and films from the time in her life being discussed allows audiences to feel as though we are not watching a film, but rather a fast-forwarded journey of Holdsclaw’s life. We are engaging with her in each major event in relation to her disease and watching, as she learns to deal with the untreatable.