San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Lonnie Walker says he was sexually abused and raped as a child.
The 21-year-old talked about the abuse – which took place when he was around 10 or 11 – when explaining his decision to cut his signature hair.
Walker said it had acted as a “cloaking device” for him with his hair being “something I can control”.
He said he has “found peace and internal happiness” after “truly looking at himself in the mirror”.
Writing on Instagram, he said: “The real truth as to why I started doing this [growing his hair] early fifth grade, it was a cloaking device for me.
“I was sexually harassed, raped, abused, I even got accustomed to it because being at that age you don’t know what is what.
“I was a gullible, curious kid that didn’t know what the real world was. I had a mindset that my hair was something that I can control.
“My hair was what I can make and create and be mine. And it gave me confidence.”
Walker was averaging 5.6 points and 2.2 rebounds off the bench for the Spurs this season before the NBA was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He recently said he “wasn’t at his best”, struggling mentally with “demons” and previous history “popping up” in his head.
“Because of this virus, I began to truly look at myself in the mirror and see who I truly was even behind closed doors,” he added.
“Long story short, I have found peace and internal happiness through this journey.
“I forgave everyone, even the people that don’t deserve it. Why? Because it’s dead weight. Time doesn’t wait on anyone so why should I waste my time on it?
“Me cutting my hair was more than a cut. My hair was a mask of me hiding the insecurities that I felt the world wasn’t ready for.
“But now [I’m] better then ever. Out with old. In with the new. I have shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.”