Depression Haunted WNBA’s Imani McGee-Stafford, But Basketball Saved Her Life

Some athletes deal with things off the court that people may not know about. Depression is one thing that athletes deal with, and it can have a huge impact on their lives. 

One WNBA player dealt with depression for a good portion of her life, and playing basketball helped her overcome depression.

Meet WNBA player Imani McGee-Stafford

Basketball is in McGee-Stafford’s family. She is the sister of LA Lakers center JaVale McGee. Her mother, Pam McGee, is a two-time NCAA champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and was drafted in the 1997 WNBA draft. Boyette grew up in LA and played college basketball at the University of Texas. The 6-foot-7 center had an impressive college career. 

McGee-Stafford immediately made an impact when he started her college career. She was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and after her first year, she continued to play at a high level. During the 2014-15 season, she led the team in blocks and field goal percentage, and she was second in the Big 12 in blocks. Her senior year, she was an AP All-American Honorable Mention nominee. She was an All-Big 12 First Team in her junior and senior year, and she built an impressive resume to prepare for the WNBA.

McGee-Stafford was the 10th overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft by the Chicago Sky. She averaged 6.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Her performance in her first season allowed her to be named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team. During her career, she has spent time playing in the WNBA and overseas. She currently plays with the Dallas Wings and the Perth Lynx of the Women’s National Basketball League. 

Imani McGee-Stafford dealt with a lot during her childhood

McGee-Stafford experienced a lot growing up. At the age of 10 she tried to commit suicide, and that was not her only attempt. She was sexually abused as a child, and that’s when the depression came in. McGee-Stafford suffered from depression during her childhood, and that continued through high school. She attempted suicide two more times before she graduated from high school.

It’s important to check on people because you never know what they’re going through. McGee-Stafford felt like she had no business living anymore, and the depression was getting worse. In a 2016 article from, she talked about what she was going through when dealing with depression. “There are days when you wake up and feel like your body can’t make it through this day — like physically can’t do it. I didn’t think anyone understood that,” she said. “It feels like the world is ending.” She was going through a lot, but there was something that helped her in a big way.

Basketball helped Imani McGee-Stafford overcome her depression


Many NBA Players Supported the WNBA in a Big Way

With her family playing basketball, it was easy for McGee-Stafford to fall in love with the sport. “Basketball was the only dependable thing in my life,” she told Cosmopolitan in an interview before the 2016 WNBA Draft. Not only did basketball help her, but she turned to poetry as well. 

In an article from The Undefeated, she touched on how poetry helped her build confidence to tell her story. She has become an advocate for mental health and served as a spokeswoman and summer camp counselor for Sparks of Hope. Sparks of Hope is a camp for children who have been abused, and the goal is to help children heal from their past and go from victims to survivors. 

McGee-Stafford did not let depression get the best of her, and she used her WNBA platform and poetry to overcome depression and help others who may be going through similar situations.