Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young opened up about his struggles with mental health issues at a charity event,
revealing that he grew up with severe separation anxiety that went undiagnosed well into his playing career with the San Francisco 49ers.
According to The Athletic, Young made the comments April 25 at the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club in Menlo Park, California, during a charity banquet for the non-profit Child Mind Institute.
During his speech onstage, Young recalled excelling in school and in sports, but described episodes where he made excuses to avoid being separated from his parents.
His mother Sherry Young would walk him to school and would stay in the classroom. When friends asked him to sleep over at their homes, Young would use athletics and early-morning practices as excuses.
"I didn’t know this, but I grew up with severe childhood separation anxiety," Young said during the event, per The Athletic. "All I knew was that I didn’t sleep over at other people’s houses.
I had straight A’s, I didn’t miss a day of school, and I was captain of three sports. I mean, if you knew me back then you’d say, ‘That kid’s killin’ it.’ Because I was killing it.
But if you said, ‘Hey, wanna sleep over at my house?’ The answer was: ‘It isn’t happening."
Young said that his struggles continued into his 30s. He recalled the leadup to an October 1991 game against the Atlanta Falcons in which he endured two consecutive sleepless nights and feelings of anxiety.