One might surmise that if there’s one person on the planet who wouldn’t be depressed it would be Justin Verlander. The masterful starting pitcher has punched his ticket to Cooperstown by notching some mind-blowing stats including earning the pitching Triple Crown in 2011 by leading the American League with 24 wins, 2.40 ERA, and 250 strikeouts, plus he won the Cy Young and MVP that year. The seven-time All-Star and four-time KO King won the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award and has two no-hitters under his belt.
He was traded to the Houston Astros and powered them to winning the World Series. Verlander signed a seven-year, $180 million contract in 2013. Oh yeah, and he’s married to supermodel Kate Upton, which would put a smile on any man’s face. However, even Justin Verlander is not impervious to suffering from depression.
Back in 2014, things were much different on the field for Verlander, he was having the worst season of his career. The usual rock-solid Verlander only had 159 strikeouts in 32 starts and had a very un-Verlander-like 4.54 ERA.
The once faithful Detroit Tigers fans were booing their franchise player for his poor performance. Many fans and experts blamed Verlander’s relationship with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit star Kate Upton. But in fact, Verlander was saddled with a nasty shoulder injury that put his incredible career in jeopardy.
In August of 2014, Verlander was pulled from a game in the first inning and he was asked to get an MRI to diagnose his diminished velocity. At 31-years-old, he thought it was the end of his storied career. Verlander wept as he walked back to the clubhouse.
“I don’t like to talk to people about being hurt,” Verlander told Bleacher Report. “As athletes, you’re not supposed to… But [Upton] was someone I could talk to. I mean, basically a therapist. Somebody I could trust with… worries about my career. Worries about, Can I make it? Worries about what I’m going through to get back.”
Verlander confided in his supermodel girlfriend of two years. “She obviously had dealt with more than me in her life,” Verlander says. “I mean, being a woman? Being in that industry? Being that famous? That was a level I hadn’t dealt with.”
“She was instrumental in me not… like, jumping off a bridge,” he said of Upton. “I was depressed and kind of just upset at the world and trying to hide my own shit.”
“It was so emotional,” Upton said. “He was in so much pain, and he was just trying to find the best path back.”
Verlander entered physical rehab and altered his mechanics to adjust to his aging body. It has worked like a charm and he has had a sub 4.00 ERA ever since. This year with the Astros, Verlander is having one of the best seasons of his career with a minuscule 2.50 ERA and a whopping 206 KOs in only 25 games.
Verlander and Upton got married in Italy last November right after the Astros beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series. Now the two are having a baby together.
“Married life’s been great. I married my best friend, and we do everything we can to spend as much time together as possible,” Verlander said in March. “Honestly, I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a lovely first year of marriage.”
“Who knows, if I’m even here if it wasn’t for her?” Verlander said.