Former Celtics guard Keyon Dooling appeared on Katie Couric's syndicated talk show this afternoon, participating in an episode titled "Confronting a Dark Past" to tell his story as a victim of sexual abuse.
Joined by his wife, Natosha, Dooling told Couric that while growing up in Fort Lauderdale he was introduced to pornography and forced to perform oral sex by a friend of his brother at 5 years old. He also said that when he was 7, Dooling's father -- who the 12-year pro described as a "pillar of the community" -- showed him more pornography as a means of explaining sex.
A well-respected executive in the NBA players' association and long known as a player who served as a motivator and councilor to his teammates, Dooling helped the Celtics to within a game of the NBA Finals last season, then re-signed with the club this summer. In September, however, he abruptly retired because he could no longer repress the memories of his childhood and was admitted to a mental hospital for a period to help treat the anxiety. Since then, Dooling said that other pros have come forward privately to credit him for his decision to speak out publicly, and some have even told him that they have had similar experiences.
This week it was revealed that Dooling has accepted a position with the Celtics in player development, though he told Couric he intends to travel the country to speak with and advocate for other victims of abuse. His message is already resonating with some, and after the show Dooling said he was asked for his thoughts on some recent high-profile sexual abuse cases, including that of Penn State and Jerry Sandusky. He said he could relate to the victims, and was proud of them.
"I was happy because of the courage that they were able to show in coming forward -- the courage that I didn't have initially," he said. "I would definitely say the victims in this case turn out to be the heroes, and they inspire people like me to come out and try and make a difference."
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