A photo of an American Football of a football field with an image from the TV show Ballers with the article title - Ballers: A Review Of The TV Shows Suicide Storyline - overlaying that Ballers image

Ballers: A Review Of The TV Shows Suicide Storyline

With the return of the TV show ‘Ballers’ and with suicide prevention month being upon us, I thought I’d write an article about the show’s suicide storyline. Plus, offer a review of the show in general.





For those not familiar with the American TV show Ballers, the show stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Spencer Strasmore. Spencer is a retired NFL player who has become a financial advisor to other NFL players. However, in letter seasons, his career branches out. I can’t really say much more without spoiling the show for you.


Also starring next to the Rock is Rob Corddry as Joe Krutel, a financial advisor, who meets Spencer Strasmore at Anderson Financial.




This show might not be the kind of show you’d expect to tackle a suicide storyline, but it has. Especially given that it’s largely about sports and has the genuinely nice guy, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, playing the role of an alpha male and former NFL player. But the show hasn’t shied away from the big issues.


Throughout the show, you also get to see Spencer Strasmore deal with his own physical and mental health problems (something the Rock has had to deal with himself). This helps to show that even hugely well-toned men can also suffer from mental health problems, which, on its own, is an important message to send to men.


They’ve also tackled the Post-Concussion Syndrome (Ricky Jerrett, played by John David Washington), and let’s not forget the reason for this post, the suicide of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s character (Spencer Strasmore) older brother, William. William was a one-time USC quarterback, who, due to issues with the NCAA, ended up taking his life.


A picture of a white male quarterback running with an American football with an image of taken from Ballers with the title of the article - Ballers: A Review Of The TV Shows Suicide Storyline - overlaid on that Ballers image


Another taboo male topic was broached in Ballers in season 3, the topic of fertility. Spenser realises he’s never had a pregnancy scare, and after dealing with a lot of reluctance, he eventually has his fertility tested. The results of which you’ll have to watch the show to find out.


For a show like this, which is largely targeted at a male audience, to tackle such issues will hopefully encourage men to seek help with their health. This is important because men are more likely than women to commit suicide.


A WHO statistic on the rate of suicide of men and women to represent the topic of the article - Ballers: A Review Of The TV Shows Suicide Storyline



Ballers Suicide Storyline


Throughout the show you get the occasional tit-bit about Spencer’s brother’s suicide, and what led to it happening. But it’s not until season 4 that it starts to become a more significant part of the story. This is when you become fully aware of the background of Spencer’s brother’s tragic suicide, and when you start to see Spencer’s motivations.


At the start of season 4 (episode 1), Spencer takes his friend and partner to the bridge where his older brother, William, sadly took his life. The death of his brother was part of Spencer’s reluctance to return to the West Coast, so it was a significant moment for Spencer.




This is the episode where Spencer decides to put his baggage to one side and stay in LA for the sake of the work they had there. In short, this is a scene created to show how Spencer is ready to lift the weight of his brother’s death off his shoulders, freeing him from his emotional burden (i.e. his guilt).


By the end of Season 4, there was another poignant moment regarding Spencer’s brother’s death. You see, Spencer at his brother’s grave having an emotional moment, and it’s this moment he decides he’s going to take on the NCAA whom he blames for his brother’s death.


An NAMI promo image for suicide awareness prevention month


Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Personal Experience With Suicide


Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has also opened up about his personal experience with suicide, talking about his mother’s (Ata Johnson) attempt. The Rock took a break whilst filming the grave scene about his character’s brother’s suicide on the set of Ballers to share his personal story of his mother’s suicide attempt. Which he posted on Instagram.


My mom tried to check out when I was 15. She got outta the car on Interstate 65 in Nashville and walked into oncoming traffic. Big rigs and cars swerving outta the way not to hit her. I grabbed her and pulled her back on the gravel shoulder of the road.


That’s a lot for any teenager to handle. For information on what you could do to help someone who’s feeling suicidal, check out my previous article Suicide And Suicide Prevention: Advice And Information.



Review Of Ballers


Ballers weren’t normally the kind of show I’d watch, but I thought I’d give it a try when the first season premiered because there wasn’t much else available at the time. But I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve ended up watching every episode to date.


The suicidal storyline portrayed on Ballers resonated with me on many levels because of my personal experience. The show also highlights that people we consider to have the whole world in their hands, with fame and money all coming their way, can still end up taking their lives. Mental health problems don’t discriminate.


Both Rob Corddry and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson act brilliantly in this show, and you see them showing their skills in a wide wage of emotional situations. The surprising scale and depth of the normally taboo storylines also show just how good their acting range is, and really helps to make the storylines relatable.


In general, I was surprised that I’d like such a show, but the fact that they were tackling the big issues around men’s health, athletes’ health, NCAA, etc. was what made the show really enjoyable and eye-opening to watch.




If you haven’t watched Ballers yet, give it a go, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. Plus, it only has a 27-ish minute runtime, and each season only has 8-10 episodes as well, so it won’t eat up that much of your time either.


4 star review


 Unfortunately, it looks like season 5 will be the last, as HBO has cancelled the show. There hasn’t been a reason given for why the show has been cancelled, but it’s likely due to ratings. Which is a shame. I hope they at least round off the show with a proper ending.


Do you watch Ballers? What do you think about their suicide storyline? Have you experienced a loved one taking their own life or have you struggled with suicidal ideation? Let me know in the comments section below.


A picture of the yellow ribbon for world suicide prevention day/month


For more information about suicide and mental health, check out my previous article, Mental Health: Painting A Picture Of The Issues With Statistics.


As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of suicide and if you like the TV show Ballers in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.





Worried About Someone?


SamaritansHaving a difficult conversation

Myths about suicide

Rethink Mental IllnessSupporting someone with suicidal thoughts




If you feel you need help, then visit my Global Crisis Lines and UK Crisis Lines And Support page for a detailed list of Crisis Lines, Help Lines, Text services, Webchat, and more you can contact.

13 thoughts on “Ballers: A Review Of The TV Shows Suicide Storyline

  1. Very interesting. I’ve never heard of this show but love that they’ve brought attention to mental health problems, especially to a largely male audience. Hopefully this will help build bridges for men and show them there is nothing to be ashamed of.

    • Indeed, even as a mental health blogger, I still feel like I should keep my issues to myself and not burden the people I know.

      Learning that men should shoulder it all on there own is so embedded that it’s really hard to move past it, even when you know you should

  2. I’ve only watched one season of Ballers and love Dwayne Johnson. I like that the show featured about some of the struggles that players may have behind the scene. It is so sad that Dwayne had an experience with attempted suicide. It is good that he pulled her back in. Dwayne is the best – I always love the story that he tells in any of his work.

    Nancy ♥

  3. My husband is an avid watcher of Ballers and really finds it great that all these issues are tackled as often it can be a lead in to talking about things himself. It’s a really good show (the few episodes I’ve managed to watch too) so it’s good to hear it goes beyond the usual stereotype of men/men in sport, etc.

    Great post!

  4. I love that it not only tackled the suicide story line but that they did it from the point of view of a man, as far too often our society pushes the idea that ‘men don’t cry’. It opens the door to acknowledge that men, too, have to focus on their mental health

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