KU football legend Tony Sands writes book on mental health and life after sports

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tony Sands is a Jayhawks football legend.

He broke an FBS single-game rushing record in 1991 and had his eyes set on the NFL, but that never materialized.

“So I moved back home. The depression started hitting me from a standpoint: Man, have I let everybody down. I’ve let my family down. I let myself down,” Sands said. “I’m a big disappointment to everybody despite having all the success that I had.”

His transition from star athlete to life after sport wasn’t smooth.

“I can remember clear as day. I was riding down the street here in Florida, in Broward County. At that time, I had a gun, and it was on the seat. I thought to myself, the easiest thing to do at the point was to take this gun and to end it all,” Sands said.

Sands said this was the lowest point in his life, but also a turning point. Things began to change when he started training athletes in 1993.

“As I started training young men, I started speaking to them. I started finding myself self healing my own self because the things I was telling young men to watch out for, no one told me about,” Sands said. “Through teaching them, I was able to self heal myself and be my own therapy within myself to help myself come out of the dark place that I was in.”

Sands has now written a book in hopes of reaching more athletes like himself.

The book is called, “I Was Before my Time.” It’s Sands’ life story and touches on embracing life after football and defeating depression.

“It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know.’ And it’s OK to say I need help,” Sands said.


One in four people battles depression. FOX4 encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about mental health. Silence helps no one.

If you are struggling and need to talk to someone, you can find multiple resources on FOX4’s You Matter page. Please seek help if you or someone you know is suffering.

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