Minor League Madness is proud to partner with two of the best leaders in men’s mental health advocacy. Tyler Smith and Brady Leavold have been leading the way and starting the mental health conversations for hockey players across the World. If you are struggling, there is finally a confidential resource for hockey players at the minor pro level.
Originally from Port Coquitlam B.C., 1987 born Brady Leavold used hockey to escape early childhood trauma that would be left a secret until 20 years later. Brady lived and breathed hockey on and off the ice, it was his only escape. The hours he spent escaping his trauma rapidly developed him into an elite hockey player. Brady’s junior hockey career spanned from 2003-2008 the majority with the Swift Current Broncos and his final year with the Kelowna Rockets. Leavold’s WHL career was derailed on several occasions due to his inner demons. His mental illness and addiction started slowly taking over his life. After a very successful final season with the Rockets, Leavold turned pro with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL but an injury early into his first season led him down the dark road of prescription pain killers and his life was never the same. For the next two seasons, he tried to battle his opioid addiction with his hockey career but everything soon fell apart. From 2012-2021 Brady’s addiction progressed rapidly and took him to some of the lowest places possible. Many trips to the psych ward, the ER with multiple overdoses, homelessness on Vancouver downtown Eastside and finally prison. The countess suicide attempts and overdoses are a harsh reminder of how lucky he is to be alive every single day. Today Brady is using his story to empower others to get help for their mental illness and or addiction problems. He has been clean since February 2020 and since then has started an organization called Puck Support to help combat mental health and addiction within the hockey community. It was after uncovering countless stories of other hockey players who also battled but tragically lost. The number of hockey players that have died related to suicide and overdose is staggering and Brady could have easily been one of them. Brady along with Puck Support help honour all of those hockey players we have lost through his podcast Hockey 2 Hell And Back and also through the Puck Support merchandise. Puck Support’s ultimate goal is to ignite change in mental health and addiction in hockey and we strive to be able to support all of those who may need help within the hockey community including players, coaches, staff and maybe most importantly parents. Brady and Puck Support are thrilled to be teamed up with Minor League Madness and Tyler Smith to be able to offer support to the current players who may need it. Brady himself knows what it’s like and we all believe we can help save lives.
April 6, 2018 changed our lives, in many different ways. It led me into a spiral of mental and emotional pain that I never thought would happen. The physical recovery took its toll. But the mental and emotional journey is something I am now prepared to be in for the long haul of life. A journey that’s included an incredible amount of ups and downs, growths and setbacks, and also a massive amount of self-reflection and internal lessons learned.
From a regular Canadian junior hockey player who grew up knowing that coming to the rink means putting your work boots on and leaving your emotions at the door. To now understanding that no matter where you come from or what sport you play, everybody is fighting a battle that you may have no idea about.
Before the accident, I took relationships, conversations and my own mental wellness for granted. I didn’t realize how powerful it is to have a meaningful conversation with somebody in your corner, someone who cares about you. That shame, that weakness, that judgement always led me to bottling things up and chucking them on the backburner of my mind. But when you really think about it, being vulnerable, whether that be in front of teammates, friends, family, whomever, is really quite a courageous thing to do that requires a ton of strength.
So be open, let that weight off your shoulders and heart, because wow it can feel so very good. The ability to now see and feel the importance of a meaningful and powerful conversation with another individual is something I won’t take for granted now. To make that first step. To initiate healing within yourself. To be proud of yourself for putting yourself first and acknowledging that self-care is not selfish. Now that’s a tremendous thing to do.
We are providing mental health support for past and current members of the PHPA. 100% free. 100% confidential. Fill out the contact form below to personally get in touch directly with Tyler Smith. He is the only person that can see you’ve reached out.