Hayward gets encouragement from Kobe, other athletes
FILE - BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Gordon Hayward #20 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics talk before the game against the Charlotte Hornets during a preseason game on October 2, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
It wasn't long after Gordon Hayward suffered his season-ending leg and ankle injuries that support from well-wishers across the NBA and sports world started pouring in. The most notable support may have come from former Kia MVP and severe injury-sufferer himself, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Bryant took to Instagram the day after Hayward's injury to encourage the Boston Celtics' new star.
In an interview with former Celtics star Paul Pierce (now an analyst on ESPN), Hayward reveals how Bryant and other marquee athletes have helped encourage and inspire him.
"It was so amazing to help me get through those like, couple days, couple weeks because there were like dark times. The negative thoughts that go through your mind which I think are natural but are hard to stop because it keeps spiraling on you."
Hayward said hearing from fellow NBA star Paul George, as well as NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt, encouraged him as well. In particular, though, he said Bryant's social media post and subsequent words stood out.
"Another person that really has lifted me up and that I've been in touch with is Kobe. He sent that Instagram post, and he’s emailed me a couple times too, just talking about attacking each day, set many goals and that’s my mindset. How can I get better with my ankle today? Be better today than I was yesterday? I think if I slowly work like that, I’ll be back before I know it.”
In the interview, Hayward also recalled the immediate moments after his injury and having the Celtics trainers “pop [his] foot back into place” while he laid on the court.
“As I’m being carted off, I had just these emotions like, ‘Am I done? Like, is my career over?' "
Hayward says he still can’t place any weight on his injured leg, but has resumed some other weight training and has been shooting from a chair as well.