METAIRIE, La. — With watery eyes and long pauses to compose himself, New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson didn't even try to mask how rough the past month-and-a-half has been for him since his girlfriend, reality television actress Gia Allemand, committed suicide.
"Every day is a challenge," he said Monday, one the eve of the first practice of training camp. "It helps to be here. My family's with me. To be here with my teammates really helps a lot, but it's a roller coaster."
Anderson, a 6-foot-10, former Cal standout who can make 3-pointers in bunches, has had a promising start to his NBA career. As he enters his sixth season, he's trying to summon the emotional strength to continue thriving on court, and hopes that by doing so it will empower him to honor Allemand's memory in a way that benefits others who may be suffering the way she did.
Although Anderson was not yet ready to go into detail, he said he will help the Allemand family launch a foundation, named for his late girlfriend, which will help "everybody know that they're not alone."
Allemand, who appeared on ABC's "The Bachelor" and "Bachelor Pad," died in mid-August at age 29.
"Something like that just doesn't happen for no reason and I know that for 100 percent," Ryan said, his voice cracking as a tear dripped off his left cheek. "I know that there's a huge plan here. ... I know that a lot of people are going to be helped through this."
"This is a topic that is not talked about enough and it is a huge problem," Anderson continued.