Athletes around the globe are looking towards natural, clean modalities to help sustain a normal life without the reliance of opioids and pain medications. Cannabis is making waves throughout the sporting world and has provided an opportunity for athletes to advocate for change, spread awareness and push for education.
Villanova alumni Darryl, D-Rey, Reynolds played NCAA Basketball for the Wildcats and today is a Tedx speaker, educator, entrepreneur and cannabis advocate. He’s using his platform to normalize the cannabis conversation one mountain at a time, helping others through his journey, sharing his experiences and the pivotal role cannabis has played in his life.
Darryl Reynolds played high school basketball for Lower Merion and was immediately recognized for his defense, rebounding, dominating the post and had an unstoppable offensive game with an ability to drain buckets at will. After making a name for himself at Lower Merion high school, Darryl moved to Villanova, posting an amazing career and enjoyed a 2016 NCAA Championship. Shortly after graduating Villanova, Darryl took his talents to the summer league before heading to Poland for Professional Basketball.
During the offseason, Darryl sustained a career ending injury in a pick up game, ultimately tearing his ACL, LCL, PCL, ripped off his hamstring and suffered residual nerve damage from the knee down.
“I’m playing pickup (basketball) -my first time working out, I had a terrible terrible first game and the second game -not as terrible, you know?… I go full, they go up and the guy he comes down (thinks he’s LeBron game six against seven, whatever, whatever the warriors) and he knocks me out the air. When I come down, I come down in a straight leg and my heel catches first and usually your foot will buckle. I got to be honest, I think I would have been better off if my Achilles had popped. I mean, thank God, that didn’t happen. But usually something will buckle. You know what I mean? My heel touched the ground, and the force was all absorbed by my knee. So I tore my ACL, also part of my PCL, and I’ve ripped my hamstring. It came off like your hamstrings, it’s like a rubber band around different parts. And it popped off, and caused nerve damage”-Darryl Reynolds
Elite athletes that have suffered debilitating injuries from all sporting worlds are coming to the forefront, sharing their experiences with opioids and pain killers.
“When I first got hurt, it was bad, it was hard, it hurt. I could barely bend my knees. It was bad (but) I didn’t know how bad it was even when they told me the diagnosis was bad. It was after surgery when it was like, Oh, my God, like, this is blinding pain. And they started prescribing the opioids. I think it was the third day I stopped. I was like -I can’t do this. I was sitting around doing nothing. So the days already felt like they were stretched. And then I just had this distinct time in my mind where it just confused me. And it really made it feel like it was a lot longer than when it was. One of the things I really remember feeling is when you’re in a certain amount of pain. emotionally, it reflects if you’re sad, if you’re someone like me, you’re angry, but a certain amount of physical pain is going to pour into your emotional well being. And I remember I didn’t feel the emotional part. So I was still in some type of pain, but it would numb the anger away, it would numb the sadness. And to me, I was like, that’s bad. You mean if it’s numbing your emotional response to something, and only kind of taking away the physical pain of it like that. I was like, I can see why people are so messed up on these.”-Darryl Reynolds
For decades, the traditional modalities have been blanket treatments, effective in the moment, but an ineffective solution for the long term health of an athlete. The landscape has provided an opportunity to push research and education to the forefront. With a progressive mentality, the help of other athletes and research, Darryl started looking towards Cannabis for recovery and relief,
“Just just seeing how it would affect so many different people, you know what I mean? And seeing the various things, I saw different athletes using it for different reasons, I saw all these people and it was interesting to me, I’ve always been interested, if enough people have different, you know, mindsets, whatever you want to call the gravitate towards one thing that one thing must, must be valid, you know what I mean? And I kind of started to look at how many different people had an interaction with marijuana. And let me see what this is about.”-Darryl Reynolds
Medical professionals and research organizations are learning about the effects CBD can have on athletes such as strengthening the immune system, reducing stress and anxiety, speeding up recovery, relieving pain, getting better sleep as well as having the potential to reduce inflammation. Darryl talks about the profound role cannabis has played in his life and where it’s helped him the most;
“I think mentally… I started to figure out myself at a different rate, because of cannabis, and that contributed to my basketball play. And what I mean by that is, I think I started smoking at an age that I was used to life without it, I wasn’t around it, I don’t agree with high school kids smoking it, (and) I don’t believe in that (today). I don’t believe in getting high before your brain is fully developed. So because I was in my (mid) 20s, my brain had a different vibe, the neuroplasticity, it was a little more solid than the regular person. So, for me, it was like there were all these doors that I couldn’t get in before in my mind and it (cannabis) just kind of helped me reach a higher level of consciousness that trickled over into the game. I think that’s probably why my season in Poland was the way it was because I was just thinking at a different rate. And I think that’s because it’s been studied, if you lower your anxiety, you can put yourself in a flow state, (that’s why so many musical artists, you know, gravitate towards cannabis), if you can put yourself in a flow state where your mind can think at a different rate, at a sustainable rate that allows you to just pump out some of your best work, stress and anxiety free. In a produces a different peace”-Darryl Reynolds
There is an opportunity to shift the perception of cannabis, and use momentum to move cannabis mountains. In recent months, the Sports Cannabis World has seen provisions made by USADA and WADA to allow for CBD. The NFL changed policy for consumption of cannabis during the off season, the NBA stopped testing for cannabis during the 2020’21 season and recently sporting leagues have started to pledge funds towards cannabis research. Darryl has been a firm believer in the movement, but ultimately believes more can be done;
“I don’t believe we’re doing enough. But I do think that this is the type of momentum we need. The reason I say we’re not doing enough is because it’s not done yet. The thing that nobody talks about is (you know) the “Boogey Man of Cannabis” – the other side of the coin for cannabis is these opioids and painkillers. Which, if you’re in a certain amount of pain they are necessary. But nobody wants to talk about the fact that the pharmaceutical companies that prescribe these things are on trial right now for helping power the opioid crisis. No one really wants to acknowledge that and I think it is at a point where it’s like that domino needs to be pushed all the way over and cannabis needs to be the main way we care for people.”-Darryl Reynolds
Outside of pushing for change, advocating for normalcy, Darryl Reynolds is also a thought leader, inspiring and motivating others through a TEDx Talk he gave “I Can Move Mountains”.
” I’ve always had a fixation on self sufficiency, because there’s always been a lot of things I had to figure out. I started playing ball -if you’ve seen my parents play sports. So I’ve always been in a position where it’s like, alright, if you don’t figure it out, you’re not going to get to it. (So) I started in Poland writing out the seven things. It’s all these little things in my life that I feel like if I could give people game on – it would help them navigate things and then when I got hurt, it kind of took on a different feel. It was like oh, this isn’t just for basketball. This isn’t just for unlocking your mind in a sport. This is for you, your spirit, your soul and life.”-Darryl Reynolds
For many athletes, the transition from their athletic career to industry can be challenging. Darryl believes “courage” will ultimately help athletes pave their way to success. Courage plays a huge role in life, having the courage to share, the courage to educate, the courage to break the stigma. Moving the needle on all fronts, Darryl offers invaluable advice for any athlete/entrepreneur looking to move the needle and make an impact.
“Figure out what you’re doing it for…Figure out what you want. If it’s something that’s in vain, (like), make a lot of money, then you’ll do anything to make money. If it’s something vain, like, you want a bunch of attention, you’ll would do anything for attention. That’s one of the dangers of being an athlete. For a lot of your life you get your ego fed, and it’s about you-it’s about you-it’s about you! There’s nothing wrong with living a life like that -just understand it will only take you so far and the path for that is so wide. If you really want to hone in on something and go after something, figure out what you want for your life. Figure out what you want to be remembered for outside of the game and then align yourself with a career that allows you to get it.”-Darryl Reynolds