Bigger than Basketball: Bradley Braich
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Just one more shot.
It’s a cool night. The sun is setting. Dusk covers the concrete court in a dark blanket. Crickets coo in the distance as the sound of a basketball hits the pavement, once, twice, three times. Swish.
Just one more shot.
It’s dinnertime. He looks at his phone. 6:08pm. His left shoe is untied, so he leans down to tie it, then undo it and retie it again. He dribbles the ball closer to the hoop. The strings hang loosely as the orange sphere drops through them without touching the rim. Swish.
He finally retreats back home, but as he turns into the driveway, he can’t seem to put the car in park. He reverses and drives down that same road, the concrete court on the horizon. He laces up.
Just one more shot.
He makes that ‘one’ shot about 100 more times because it’s never just one more shot for Bradley Braich. No matter how perfect each shot goes in, it’s not enough.
So he goes home only to lay in bed awake all night replaying that shot over and over again in his mind. He curls up into a ball and cries. Sometimes he won’t leave his room for days.
All because of that one shot.
Bradley suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. To him, these struggles have become a daily routine.
“Last summer in my personal training, I knew something was wrong,” he recalls. “I started to hate it. It was all I was thinking about was, ‘My shot’s not good enough, my shot’s not good enough.’ So I’m like, this isn’t normal. It’s normal to a certain extent to doubt yourself, but I was excessively doubting myself to the point where I didn’t want to leave my bed because I thought that I couldn’t shoot anymore.”
That same summer, Bradley tried to take his own life.
“With what I took, I should not be here today.”
After a gruelling night in the hospital, doctors came into Bradley’s room at 6am and told him that he was safe and his liver would be okay.
Bradley’s dad, Bobby Braich, says seeing his son struggle to that depth was the most difficult challenge of his life.
“Nothing compares to watching your son, or your child…struggle to the depth that he struggled and then know that you’re as helpless as you are,” Bobby said. “And there’s no way to put that in words until you’re in an emergency room and you know it’s self-induced to a certain extent.”
Bradley admits that without his father, his mother, his sister, and many of his close family and friends, he would not be alive today.
“It all originates from basketball because OCD tends to infiltrate the most meaningful things to you,” he said.
Bradley says school and basketball are where his OCD hits hardest. Even though basketball is a huge part of his life, he found that his biggest struggles stemmed from his time on the court.
“For the longest time I defined myself by basketball and that ended up me going through some huge mental struggles because of it.”
But because of those struggles and seeing how flawed the mental healthcare system can be, Bradley and his friend Kyle Claggett created the ‘Bigger than Basketball’ event in Abbotsford that happened on Friday, May 11th, 2018.
“‘Bigger than Basketball’ means to me is that we are more than what we do on the court,” Bradley said about the meaning behind the event. “At the end of the day, every single one of us is going to have to stop playing the sport at one point in our lives and what we do from that point on is what’s going to define us.”
That night, Bradley played what could have been his last basketball game, which is why he wanted to make the night as special as possible. He’s uncertain at the moment if he wants to pursue a career with the sport.
“I don’t want to say it’s goodbye, but I think I need to take time to truly find myself outside of the sport before I can go back to it and put myself back into that situation.”
And Bradley’s father is beyond proud of his son for not only breaking down the walls of mental wellness, as Bobby refers to it, but also for choosing his health and stability before anything else, including basketball. He is thrilled that Bradley was able to turn a struggle for him into a “massive positive” for all those around him both inside and outside the basketball community.
“Immediately as a parent, you’re very proud,” Bobby said. “The human spirit is quite incredible to find a way through [struggle] and evolve, grow. I know people look at me as a parent and it’s gone from, ‘Oh, we’re so sorry,’ to ‘Wow, this is awesome.’ And that’s great. That’s been Bradley’s journey, so let’s hope he can continue with it.”
Just one more shot.
That’s all Bradley needed. And thankfully, he was given one more shot at life.
He is living proof that everyone deserves a second chance and that no one should ever be alone while battling a mental illness. It affects everyone. No matter who you are, what you do, or how strong you may be; sometimes, we all struggle.
I have, too.
I’ve had days where I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up. I think Bradley’s sheer courage and openness about his story helps us all realize that we are here for a reason that is much bigger than us and far more important than the sport we play or the job we do.
Life is bigger than basketball. Life is worth living.
“We love him, what else can I say. I really do hope that somewhere along the line, someone’s going to write him a letter and say, ‘Man, you know what I’m still alive because of you.’ That to me would be better than a scholarship, better than a championship,” Bobby said. “And I think we’re going to get that somewhere along the line.”
If you ever feel that it’s just too much, don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you. Get the help you deserve. Break the silence and shatter the stigma of mental illness. We all need somebody’s shoulder at times.
And that’s okay.
“There is no way I could have done this alone,” Bradley said. “There have been so many people who have helped me along the way. I wish I knew how to thank those people.”
But what he might not realize is that his story may have already saved someone. So we thank you too, Bradley.
You are an inspiration to all of us at BC Sports Hub, to the basketball community, and to anyone else you have touched.
Written by: Crystal Scuor