I’m writing this open letter — probably prematurely — based off a few assumptions because we don’t yet know all the facts surrounding your latest health scare.
What we do know is you just had another DVT (deep vein thrombosis) but thankfully it appears your health outlook is good in the long-term. Your basketball career might be in question, though recent reports paint a picture of you returning to the court at some point.
I’m here to tell you as I’m sure others close to you already have, it’s more than okay to hang up your high tops and call it a career. And what a career it’s been.
My favorite snapshot, one I will be telling my future kids and grandkids, is your selflessness during Miami’s recent title run — also the bizarre faces, that confetti situation, and post-game video bombing. Thanks for making the game fun.
Sure you were making the big bucks, the type of money 99 percent of the world’s population can’t comprehend, but you sacrificed your individual accolades and therefore your legacy, for the sake of the team. You were a third banana when you could’ve been the man most anywhere else. But without you, the Miami Heat doesn’t win those two championships.
You have nothing left to prove.
Not to the organization that compensates you. Not to the teammates who depend on you. Not to the fans who support you. Not to the media who adores you, with many of them proclaiming you as their favorite interview with your refreshing combination of humility, kindness, and honesty. Not to your family, who will love you no matter what. Most of all, you have nothing left to prove to yourself.
You may itch for a shot at a third NBA championship, one without LeBron James behind the wheel. You may want to crank out a few more all-star seasons and cement your status in the Hall of Fame. You may feel obliged to play out your contract until your last gasping breath as a professional athlete. You’ll be cashing the checks regardless and that may feel strange (or friggin’ awesome). But none of it matters.
As you learned nearly a year ago, when a blood clot traveled to your lung and threatened your existence in this world, all that matters is your health and the health of your friends and family. (Congrats on the upcoming twins!) Everything else is filler.
The odds of getting a DVT are 1 in 1000 every year, per Stop the Clot. This means the odds of getting two in the same year, as you technically did, are one in a million. I’m no mathematician but I’d say whether you have a defined hereditary condition that makes you more likely to clot or not, something within you predisposes you to blood clots. If there’s even a three, four percent risk of another clot in your lifetime, it’s not worth giving the reaper a third chance, especially when conditions of your profession — constant travel, increased risk of contusions, likelihood of dehydration, etc — put you at a higher risk.
If there’s a doctor out there advising you the wisest course of action may be lifelong blood thinners (thus ending your career), then there shouldn’t even be a decision.
I don’t like to talk about it but I too had a blood clot, in my right leg in college almost ten years ago. Afterwards it was discovered I had a protein C deficiency, meaning I’ve always had a higher risk of clotting. Because of this, I’ve been on blood thinners for life since I was 19.
It hasn’t really affected me much. I pop a pill every evening, wear compression socks as much as possible, make sure my diet is consistent (vitamin K affects the medication), and stay away from activities that would put me at risk of bleeding, like snow skiing, intense contact sports, and bar fights.
As much as I want to glide down the mountains of Colorado again or play a friendly game of tackle football, I choose not to. Not just because it would put myself at risk of brain bleeds and other unfortunate crap, but because of what the consequences of that risk could do to my friends and family. Sharing my story wasn’t intended to be self-serving but merely to lend a sympathetic hand to your current situation.
Unlike most superstar athletes, your craft doesn’t define you. The game of basketball is ingrained in you, sure. But whenever you decide to retire, whether it’s now or five years later, the savvy, fun, happy-going Chris Bosh will have a plate overflowing with options. If you do come back, we’re all going to worry about whether the next calf sprain is actually another clot, one that could again challenge your life.
Do right by your friends, family, and yourself. Strongly consider retirement if you aren’t already.
You have nothing left to prove.