In August 2013, former Bachelor contestant Gia Allemand took her own life, hanging herself in her New Orleans home. Sadly, it was Ryan Anderson, her boyfriend at the time, who found her and rushed her to the hospital. Though she was still alive, she passed away the next day.
While he’s made several brief statements since the tragic loss of his girlfriend, the NBA player, 26, shared the intimate details of that night in a new in-depth interview with Sports Illustrated. While he’s not quoted much in the course of the lengthy piece, it does provide background that only Anderson could know.
It all began at a lunch on Aug. 12, 2013, when the couple got into a heated argument. Anderson couldn’t even remember what prompted the fight, but recalled to SI that Allemand accused him of cheating, which led him to say things that he now regrets. He told her that he no longer loved her and then dropped her off at her house, seemingly ending their relationship.
Hours later Anderson received a call from Gia’s mother Donna Micheletti, who was on the phone with her daughter when she attempted to kill herself. Donna thought her daughter had fallen asleep after taking Nyquil, but as Gia’s breathing slowed, Donna realized what was happening. The New Orleans Pelicans player rushed to his girlfriend’s house, where he tried to save her life. She had left a note that read, “Mom gets everything.”
After Allemand’s death, a shattered Anderson moved back in with his parents, eating only when his mother forced him to. He couldn’t sleep alone in his bed, and his family had to stay with him at all times. A devout Christian, Anderson spent his days reading the Bible and willing himself to go on.
Though he hadn’t seen the warning signs at the time, Anderson wishes he could have done more to be sensitive to Allemand’s delicate condition.
According to Sports Illustrated, her lifelong best friend, Becca Cohen, described Allemand as a young woman who was prone to the “highest of highs and lowest of lows” yet always put others first: “She didn’t want to spread bad energy. Since college, I was worried about her, because she lived so much of her life for other people. Some people have their lives planned out and what they want, and it’s very hard to deal with disappointment.”
Gia’s mother placed the blame on her ex-husband, Gia’s father Eugene Allemand, who had texted his daughter hateful notes when she didn’t send her grandmother a Mother’s Day card.
“I regret what I said,” Eugene said. “They can blame me, but I don’t blame myself at all. Unfortunately my daughter needed professional help. She must have had demons inside.”
Donna also noted that Gia “didn’t think men could actually love. She used to tell me, ‘I hate men.’ All she wanted was to be loved. When it came to relationships, she always felt men would abandon her.”
Allemand was a contestant on Jake Pavelka’s season of The Bachelor in 2010, eventually making it to the final three. After that, she met Anderson at a hotel in the Bahamas in 2011. At the time he told his brother-in-law, “If I don’t talk to this girl, I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life.”
Now, more than a year after her death, Anderson has returned to the basketball court after taking some time off. In January 2014, he suffered a major neck injury, keeping him out of the final 51 games of the season. He has since recovered, but more importantly, he is focusing his energies on being a spokesman for suicide awareness and prevention. Anderson works solely with the group To Write Love on Her Arms, and recently completed a touching video for the organization.
Along with Gia’s mother, Anderson has started The Gia Allemand Foundation, which is currently awaiting IRS approval as a nonprofit.
"People need to put a face to [suicide prevention and survival], and I’m okay being that face,” he said. “I’m not overjoyed that I have to talk about the most painful experience of my life, but either I become that face or I tuck [myself] away in a corner and I let this rule over me.”