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Actively Black, Helping Black People Get Through Depression.

By: David Yang

A new generation of black athletes is approaching a different kind of problem. Many famous athletes like tennis star Naomi Osaka, and Olympic medalist Simone Biles have experienced mental health problems. Even superstar Serena Williams revealed in 2011 that she experienced depression after losing Wimbledon.

When athletes train, they not only improve their physical strength but also train their mental health. Former NBA player Lanny Smith is part of a wave of Black athletes taking the lead in helping black people deal with mental health. In November 2020, Smith launched Actively Black, a premium sports clothing brand aimed at Black communities that also helps maintain their physical and mental health.

Lanny Smith loved basketball as a kid. It was his dream to make it into the NBA. Since the sixth grade, He was a top 100-ranked player. He would travel around the country and play with famous basketball players like LeBron James. After he finished college, he signed his first NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings. 33-days after he signed his contract, he suffered from severe bone injury. A big 250 pound teammate fell on his left leg and tore the cartilage and had two micro fracture surgeries. His dream of being an NBA player since 5 ended in thirty-three days. With his dreams crushed, he began to go through a devastating time of depression. He didn’t know what to do with his life besides the NBA. And also really struggled with the fact that he dedicated his whole life to making it to the NBA, but he couldn’t play.

Because Lanny Smith’s mother raised him in the church, faith was an important factor in his life. His faith and God’s grace helped him come out of depression.

His first brand was called Active Faith, a company that strived to help people through faith. He soon found that serving others was his purpose in life. He found a lot of middle-aged men struggle with their identity once they retire from basketball.

Actively Black started with a mission to help black men and women. He didn’t want anyone to go through the same process as he did. He wanted this organization to help black people with their life. He wanted to help not just Black Americans, but the whole globe. “I want Black people to feel excellent seeing something that represents them, and I want them to know that we can compete at the highest level. Being Black is not a barrier to doing that,” said Lanny Smith.


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