Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Solomon Thomas feels blessed by ‘unparalleled’ love and support he’s received from 49ers

Mar 3, 2021 at 6:45 AM--

Since losing his sister, Ella, to death by suicide on the morning of January 23, 2018, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Solomon Thomas—the first draft pick of the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan era—has worked hard to spread awareness of the importance of mental health. It's a topic that other NFL stars, like Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, have started to speak up about.

"I think that is important to be vulnerable, to be genuine, and to be transparent," Prescott said in an interview last year while discussing the death of his older brother. "That goes a long way when you are a leader, and your voice is being heard by so many, and you can inspire."

Often, pro athletes face scrutiny from those who feel they should not show vulnerability, believing that it could impact the team. FOX Sports personality Skip Bayless was criticized for his stance on Prescott.

"I have deep compassion for clinical depression, but when it comes to the quarterback of an NFL team…it's the ultimate leadership position in sports," Bayless said. "Because of all that, I don't have sympathy for him going public with 'I got depressed.'"

Those are the kinds of challenges that pro athletes, like Thomas, face. They are people, too, with real-world problems. The 49ers defensive lineman is trying to make it clear that it is OK to show vulnerability if it can lead to a path toward better mental health.

Thomas joined the Thrivin' in the Wild with Taylor Stern podcast this week and once again shared how the 49ers organization has been supportive not just through his own struggles but also of the cause he is now championing.

"I've actually been very fortunate. I've been very blessed in my situation," Thomas told Taylor Stern. "I'm around a great organization—Jed York, and John Lynch, and Kyle Shanahan. Just the support that I've gotten from them and just the people here has been unbelievable. Just the Niners always being behind whatever my family and I were doing for Ella, whether it's in the Bay Area or in Dallas. They'll fly out. They'll support us. They'll love on us."

Understandably, Thomas was in a difficult place following Ella's passing. He has admitted in the past to slipping into a depression after losing his sister and best friend. Even football didn't provide enough of an escape.

"I just had nothing there," Thomas told Bleacher Report in 2019. "I was like, 'I really don't care about this. I really don't care about life anymore.'"

Lynch, the general manager, approached Thomas at exactly the right time—near his breaking point—pulling the former first-round pick aside in the cafeteria to check on him. It was a turning point for Thomas, who learned he didn't have to face the challenges alone.

"Getting me to therapy—I've talked about this many times—at my darkest point when I was struggling through grief and depression of losing Ella, John Lynch came up to me, and he asked if I needed help, and I told him, 'Hey John, I really do need help,'" Thomas told Stern. "And that saved my life. That conversation of them donating money to [the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention] when we do our walks, it's been truly incredible, like the support and love that I've gotten through this all.

"It's still been hard, and it's still been a long journey, but I feel very blessed and supported to be here as a Forty-Niner, and just the support they've given us. It's really been unparalleled."

You can listen to the entire enlightening conversation with Thomas below.

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