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Arik Gilbert’s Health is All that Matters

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I just hope Gilbert’s okay

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Arik Gilbert saga has added another strange, sad chapter as it was reported Saturday that Gilbert, now with the Georgia Bulldogs, is away from the program for “personal reasons.”

“Arik is dealing with some personal issues,” Kirby Smart said after Georgia’s scrimmage on Saturday. “We love him... Our thoughts and prayers are with him now and we hope to get him back soon.”

This is the third instance Gilbert’s had in less than a year. In December, while at LSU, he entered the transfer portal citing homesickness. He then transferred to Florida on January 31 but put his name back in the portal about a month later. In June, the Marietta, Ga. native landed at Athens, which is roughly an hour and a half away from home. And now he’s appeared to have stepped away from a third program in eight months, though it’s premature to say he’s left Georgia for good.

Whether Gilbert is a Tiger, Gator, Bulldog or anything else I just hope that he is okay mentally and emotionally. If Gilbert is having mental health issues, and based off conversations I’ve had with people who follow the program that appears to be the case, all that matters is he gets the help he needs.

Mental health is a real thing and thankfully we’re seeing more and more athletes value their well being. Gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the uneven bars, vault, and the all-around competitions at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health; world No. 2 tennis player Naomi Osaka took a two month break earlier this summer for similar reasons and withdrew from both the French Open and Wimbledon; and Los Angles Clippers All-Star forward Paul George talked about needing to see a psychiatrist to deal with living in isolation’s in the NBA’s playoff bubble last summer.

Biles, George, and Osaka are all professionals in their respective sports. Gilbert’s a 19-year-kid who’s likely using football to eventually provide for his family and was rated as literally the greatest tight end prospect ever. Why are we acting surprised that all this might be a little too much for a teenager?

I think where most of my sympathy for Gilbert comes from is I’ve been diagnosed as clinically depressed and I haven’t been able to get my medicine for a few months now. The days where I feel okay are vastly outnumbered by the ones where I don’t. And you know what? That’s okay too. Me, Gilbert, everyone we’re all allowed to feel that way.

I don’t know what’s going on with Arik Gilbert, all I know is I hope he’s getting the help he needs for whatever he’s battling.