In June of 2016, O.J. Mayo found out the NBA was banning him for two years for a failed drug test. And when the news went public a month later, Mayo saw who really had his back. Unfortunately, besides a few close friends and family members, his NBA crew vanished.
“I didn’t get a phone call last summer from anyone besides my family for 40 days,” Mayo told The Crossover. “People who called me every day didn’t call me for two or three months. I still haven’t talked to some people who I talked to every week. Everybody was off my a–. I was tripping. ‘Oh, I see how the world is now.’ That was rock bottom.”
After the ban went into effect, he was alone. But the downturn in his productivity on the court had been happening since he rejoined the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013. He was honest with himself and his recent NBA stats, admitting that he was an average player despite his $8 million contract. “They paid me $8 million to be, in my eyes, a sub par player. They invested millions of dollars for me to be on top of my s—, and when you’re not on top of your s—, it shows,” he confesses. “I’ll be 30 next summer. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”
In an effort to find himself again, outside of basketball, Mayo’s disappeared from the public eye and began visiting places like Dubai, the Maldives, Uganda, and South Africa. “I’ve been to Africa before,” he said. “It brings you to a still. This was about clearing my mind. When you’re on an NBA schedule, you’re away from home a lot. To be a man in Kenya, you have to care for your family away from home. I thought that was important.”
After a rough few years, it sounds like Mayo is back, in great shape and ready to make amends.
Check out the rest of O.J. Mayo interview with Sports Illustrated here.