Author and columnist Dave Zirin, who writes the Edge of Sports blog for, suggests that former Hopkins star Royce White is following in the steps of such sports pioneers as Billie Jean King, Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali by using his situation with the Houston Rockets to talk about mental health issues.

Zirin, a Macalester College alumnus, cited White's interview with author Chuck Klosterman on the website Grantland: Until that appeared, Zirin writes: "It wasn’t clear just how politically thoughtful, serious and even revolutionary an athlete we have in Royce White. For White, this isn’t just about his struggle or changing how NBA teams treat mental illness. It’s about something far greater."

White was Houston's first-round draft choice in June after playing one season at Iowa State. After several games on the bench, he refused to report to Houston's Developmental League team, citing his conflict between with the Rockets over how his anxiety disorder should be handled. A couple of weeks back, after the Klosterman interview, White and the Rockets said they had worked out a deal and that he would report.

He played his first game this week.

Zirin writes: "Think about all the massive attention we are paying to gun violence and the absence of attention to what makes people crack and become violent in the first place. Think about the tragic shootings in Chicago and the absence of discussion about the poverty and racism that define the parts of that city where the murders are taking place. Think about the mental stress that precedes so much of the violence in communities around the country. This is the discussion Royce White wants us to have, and the 21-year-old seems like the only person in public life who wants to have it."

You can read Zirin's full post here.

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