While Americans struggle to cope with the ever-growing obesity epidemic, one segment of the population is rarely mentioned: athletes. But yesterday’s announcement that Joshua Smith, a UCLA junior and former All-American basketball player, would quit the team shined a bright light on the struggles many athletes face to maintain their weight.
Smith, a junior, resigned from the team citing “personal reasons,” but sources close to the program said Smith’s “weight issues” contributed to his departure.
A person close to the team confirmed that the 6-foot-10, 300-plus-pound Smith did not practice Tuesday because of “weight issues,” which has been an issue for the junior during his time with the Bruins.
Smith, a Kent, Wash., native, has had a rocky career with the Bruins. Although he was the top-ranked center in his recruiting class, his weight and conditioning has kept him from rising to his potential and having a stellar career.
Despite the physical demands of sports, Smith isn’t the only athlete who has grappled with his weight. Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal regularly struggled to stay in shape, often returning to training camp severely overweight, and NFL legend Donovan McNabb was once pulled late in a game due to his lack of “cardiovascular endurance.”
As Americans continue to fight the battle of the bulge, athletes may also find it more difficult to stay in shape. Although Smith’s abrupt departure from UCLA’s basketball program may be shocking, it might be just the first of many weight-related exits.