Healing From Childhood Abuse With Former NFL Player Reggie Walker

Reggie Walker

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Amazon Music

Meet Reggie Walker

Reggie Walker spent seven years in the NFL playing for the Cardinals, the Chargers, and the Broncos before deciding to walk away from the game.

Reggie was sexually, emotionally, and physically abused during childhood—something he tried to hide for much of his life. And for a while, football became a socially appropriate way for him to mask his anger because he could be aggressive on the field. . 

He decided to get help to heal from the trauma he endured by talking to a therapist. But weekly therapy wasn’t enough, so he checked himself into a 30-day inpatient treatment program

He’s since pursued a counseling degree to help others heal from their pain. He started a program for athletes to help them manage their mental health, and he wrote a book called "The Game Within the Game."

Why Reggie Walker Is Mentally Strong

Reggie sought help for his struggles. And when therapy wasn’t enough, he found the courage to go to a residential treatment program. He acknowledges that it was difficult for him to do so and he even asked a friend who had been there to help him work up the courage to go.

Now that Reggie is feeling better, he’s chosen to help other people. And he’s showing people that even a successful person with a tough exterior can struggle to manage their mental health.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • Why Reggie thought getting into the NFL would finally make him happy
  • What he learned about money, fame, and past trauma 
  • Why Reggie started therapy
  • How he recognized that therapy wasn’t going to be enough
  • How he found the courage to go to a residential treatment facility
  • Why he went back to the residential center for 30 more days
  • The skills Reggie learned to manage his mental health
  • How sharing his story helped him heal his emotional wounds
  • The things he does every day to stay mentally healthy now

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Just because you are successful in certain areas doesn’t mean you have things all figured out emotionally.

You might look like you’re doing well on the outside, even when you’re fighting a secret internal battle like Reggie was.

Reggie recognized that asking for help was a sign of strength, not weakness. He talks about the basic skills he had to learn to improve his well-being.

Quotes From Reggie

Reggie Walker

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it needs to be managed.

— Reggie Walker
  • "It was beyond scary because you knew that there was something underneath it all that you had been avoiding like the plague for your whole life."
  • "I'm trying to be like me, and I'm always me all the time. And I wouldn't have [gotten] to that process if I didn't do the treatment center stays for sure."
  • "I would say my biggest accomplishment is probably just being there for my kids because there was such a period of time [when] I couldn't be there for anybody. I couldn't even be there for myself."

More About the Podcast

The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you. 

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

If You Liked This Episode, You Might Also Like These Episodes

By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.