Kenzi Lewis retired from basketball after two seasons at the Falcons.

Bowling Green, Ohio. Recently, Kenzi Lewis, a women’s basketball player at BSU, decided it was time to leave basketball forever.

“It was really hard to get away from that,” Lewis said. “All my life I’ve been known as ‘Kenzi’s basketball player.'”

Lewis started 51 games in two years with the Falcons. At first glance, she had a great start to her Falcon career. But behind the scenes she knew something was wrong.

“I felt about halfway through the season that I wasn’t the one,” Lewis said. “I didn’t feel the same either on or off the field. There was something like the back of my head, “It’s not like that anymore.”

So after two seasons at Bowling Green she went to head coach Robin Frolic and told her she would retire from a sport she loved all her life.

“We’ve come a long way in talking about mental health and especially athletes,” Lewis said. “But I think we still have a long way to go. I always thought about it as I twist my ankle, go to the doctor. There is no shame or stigma around this. I think that’s the way it should be if you’re dealing with mental health issues. “

Since March, there have been five documented suicides of NCAA athletes.

The pressure to be a college athlete has never been greater, and Lewis understands how demanding it can be.

“I chose this challenging lifestyle,” Lewis said. “Yes, I have the greatest opportunity to play sports, which I love, and go to school for free, and travel to all these places, but mental health problems do not disappear just because you are given such an opportunity. We are not machines. Our way of life, he can get to you. We are all people, we just have a great opportunity to do something at a very high level. “

Lewis hopes that by sharing his story, others will understand that putting himself first is okay.

“It takes a lot of courage to get away from what was your whole identity,” Lewis said. “I just want someone to know that if they’re fighting and they feel that way, you don’t need to be afraid. No need to be shy. People are going through this. They are people. There is strength in surviving everything, and there is strength in saying goodbye to things. ”

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