Frederic Weis might not be known by name, but anyone with an intermediate knowledge of basketball can recognize him from any “best dunks” compilation on YouTube. The 7-foot-2 Frenchman had Vince Carter soar over him in the 2000 Summer Olympics with what’s now referred to as “la dunk de la mort,” or “the Dunk of Death.” Sam Borden of the New York Times discovered that since that lowlight, Weis has dealt with much worse troubles in his life.

After the NBA career, away from Knicks fans’ hatred and coach Jeff Van Gundy’s indifference, Weis had family struggles. In 2002, his son Enzo was born while Weis played in Spain; doctors discovered that the boy was autistic. Weis didn’t handle it well, and about two years later, his wife Celia took their child and went back to France. From the article:

Off the court, he was erratic, moody and, as he admitted, “too interested in doing all the bad things.” On the court, he was sluggish and ineffective; during the 2004-5 season, he averaged fewer than 3 points and 16 minutes per game, both career lows for any season in which he played at least 30 games.

Weis struggled to balance his emotions about Enzo with his need to continue playing basketball. He tried to visit Celia and Enzo as often as possible but could not hide his disappointment at not being able to do what other fathers did with their children. He could not take Enzo to the movies (films were too long for Enzo). He could not play board games. He could not do puzzles.

The lowest point of his life was in January 2008. Weis says he drove his car from Spain to France, parked at a rest stop, and tried to kill himself by taking every sleeping pill in a bottle. The suicide attempt didn’t work, but it did change Weis’s life. Today, the former basketball player owns a tobacco store in France, and he and his wife Celia have reconciled.

Read the full piece here.

Image via YouTube

H/t to Jake


Contact the author at samer@deadspin.com.