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Bradley Beal was there for John Wall when he needed it most

John Wall and Bradley Beal were teammates for eight years with the Wizards. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Bradley Beal and John Wall haven’t been teammates on the Washington Wizards for nearly two years, but they have a bond that goes deeper than basketball.

In a moving essay published Thursday in the Players’ Tribune, Wall detailed his struggle with depression over the past few years. His mother, Frances Ann Pulley, died of breast cancer 10 months after a 2019 Achilles injury took Wall off the basketball court and marked the beginning of the end of his career with the Wizards. He was traded in December 2020.

Wall and Beal’s relationship was complicated during their eight years as backcourt-mates. The pair was the subject of frequent speculation as they vacillated between being goofy, close friends and moody locker room adversaries.

We’re seeing John Wall at his strongest. He still has some heavy lifting.

But their bond was strong. It reached another level after Wall received a call during a Wizards’ road trip to play the Charlotte Hornets that his mother had been placed on a ventilator. Wall returned to his room at the Ritz Carlton and had a breakdown, smashing “the TV, the mirror, everything,” he said.

Beal came to sit with him.

“I never wish that on anybody. I lost my grandmother last November,” Beal said Friday at Wizards media day when asked if he had read Wall’s piece. “So kind of seeing what he went through and then not even like a year and a half [later], he went through it again. Lost his mom, lost his grandma, not having basketball. That’s a lot for somebody to deal with who had the world in his hand. He revolved his world around his mother, that’s the reason why he played the game as hard as he did, and that’s taken from you.”

Beal, 29, reiterated Friday what anyone who has helped a loved one through grief knows. Sometimes the best way to comfort someone is by simply showing up.

“I didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say,” Beal said. “Just being there, being there to hold him, being there to comfort him, whatever he needed — that’s what I was there for.”

The guard said he didn’t fully comprehend Wall’s feelings until his maternal grandmother, Ora Mae Stokes, died last year. Beal sobbed at shoot-around the day he learned the news but played against Cleveland before taking a brief leave from the Wizards to grieve with his family.

“To have that experience myself a year and a half, almost two years later, it was like, I understand what that meant,” Beal said. “Because I had my brothers, I had my family there, my support system, too. It’s important, man, we need each other. It’s important you have your support system, your family, your friends — everybody needs somebody in this life. I’m blessed that I can call John my brother and I continue to do so.”

Beal joined the Wizards for the start of training camp Saturday “100 percent” healthy after missing the second half of the 2021-22 season with a left wrist injury.

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