“Any athlete can preach to this, that when things aren’t going well, you tend to bring it home, and the people that take the brunt of it is the family,’’ O’Neal said. “Whether it’s you not wanting to be around anybody, whether it’s you not wanting to do anything, whether it’s you being sensitive, whether it’s you being frustrated.’’
Eventually, the strain was too much.
“When I noticed that it was starting to weigh on my family, I asked to leave Indiana,’’ O’Neal said. “I never expected to leave Indiana. That was the breaking point for me.’’
He broke down crying in his car after his last game as a Pacer. His wife was in the passenger’s seat. He wanted to retire right then.
“She knew it because I told her that I actually understood the effects of those dark days on my family,’’ O’Neal said. “It started really bothering her to see me physically the way I was and emotionally and mentally the way I was.
“That was basically the reason why I felt like it was time to go. It was a very difficult decision.’’