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Living Your Truth: An NFL Veteran’s Quest to Normalize Mental Health Among Athletes

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As a new NFL season kicks off, we wanted to share a personal and inspiring story from one of our ambassadors, Marcus Smith

Until a few years ago, Marcus, a first-round draft pick and 6-year NFL veteran, was seemingly living his best life. He achieved his dream, had a beautiful wife and a baby on the way. Little did anyone know, Marcus was reaching a mental climax from years of bottled-up mental health issues.  

Last year, Marcus shared his personal journey, I’m Still Here, with The Players Tribune. The story details one dark day in Seattle and how he’s now dedicated his life to helping and inspiring athletes to “live your truth”.

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That dark day started just like any other, Marcus was on his way to the Seattle Seahawks training facility. He had made the drive often and always noticed one particular part where there was a steep cliff off of the side of the road. One morning, Marcus decided he was going to drive his car off the cliff and take his own life.

It was hard for him to explain how he’d gotten to that point. Despite a loving wife and his first child on the way, he was miserable. He had begun to hate football and all that came with it. In his mind, all the stress and anxiety that had overtaken his life would go away if he drove his car off of that cliff.

His wife called him as he pulled one wheel over the edge of the cliff and he quickly rushed her off of the phone. Luckily, his mother-in-law called him next and could tell something was wrong. Marcus opened up to her and after a lengthy conversation, he backed his car away from the cliff and finished his drive to the practice facility.

Once there, he met with head coach Pete Carroll and the team’s trainers. With tears streaming down his face, he tried to explain his mental state and his intention to commit suicide early that morning. Fortunately, coach Carroll and the Seahawks were extremely supportive and encouraging. They made Marcus feel comfortable, released him the next day and assisted him in getting the help he needed.

Now, Marcus is on a different mission. He knows how lucky he was to get that second phone call on that morning. He knows how fortunate he is that he’s still here to share his story. His hope is that his story can help someone else in need, someone else who is struggling with depression, stress and anxiety.

Since leaving the NFL and dealing with his own mental health issues, Marcus has consulted with other pro athletes dealing with mental health issues. He has spoken to high school and college football teams, and started two foundations, The Circle of M, to promote mental health awareness with athletes and the MII Foundation to help improve the quality of life for single parents and at-risk youth. 

Marcus has done the work to realize that mental health is something that you can’t always fix by yourself. By having the courage to face his challenges and accepting the support from his family and friends, Marcus is now able to live his truth. 3 years after that dark day, Marcus is thriving as a husband, father (of two!), entrepreneur, philanthropist, mental health advocate and so much more than just a (former) football player.

To celebrate Marcus, 20% of all sales of our Comfort formula (Stress and Anxiety) during the NFL’s 2021 kickoff weekend will be donated to The Circle of M Foundation to support Marcus’ journey to live healthy+happy, and to continue making a positive difference in the lives of young athletes.

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