TNT Sideline Reporter Craig Sager Once Talked Dennis Rodman Out of Committing Suicide

NBA Reporter Craig Sager (left) and Dennis Rodman
NBA Reporter Craig Sager (left) and Dennis Rodman Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images; Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

What a career. Beloved TNT reporter Craig Sager, who has courageously battled cancer since 2014, covers the May 2 issue of Sports Illustrated. In the piece, Sager opens up about his illustrious sports career and recalls one story in which he apparently saved Dennis Rodman from committing suicide.

Sager, 64, who’s beloved for many colorful suits on the court, was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April 2014. He’s since gone through two bone marrow transplants, more than 20 chemotherapy cycles and bone marrow biopsies, according to Sports Illustrated. Despite his aggressive cancer, the journalist has continued to do his job with his trademark smile and easy rapport with athletes.

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Shaquille O'Neal and Craig Sager
Shaquille O’Neal of the Western Conference is interviewed by TNT’s Craig Sager during the 58th NBA All-Star Game at US Airways Center February 2009 in Phoenix. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

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In the SI piece, Sager opens up about the support he’s received from athletes, including Karl Malone, Phil Mickelson, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Rodman, who apparently calls often. Rodman, now 54, was once a superstar athlete who played for the Detroit Pistons from 1986 to 1993 before he went on to play for the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. The Pistons franchise star was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. Rodman is also well-known for his outrageous style and colorful hair, as well as his brief marriage to Carmen Electra. He also memorably dated Madonna and Vivaca A. Fox in the ’90s.

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At the height of his NBA career, though, Rodman supposedly wanted to commit suicide. In 1993, the NBA pro (known as “the Worm”) went missing and had plans to kill himself — until Sager found him. The journalist tracked down Rodman on the second floor of a strip club in Detroit.

Craig Sager on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated'.
Craig Sager on the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated’

“The Landing Strip,” Sager recalled to SI. “He had the gun. He was going to do it. I told him how stupid that would be.”

Rodman wrote about his struggle with suicidal thoughts in his book, Bad As I Wanna Be. He also spoke about the dark battle in a 2011 interview with Graham Bensinger. “Those thoughts went through my head,” he said. “I think the circumstances were dispersing from Detroit. The organization wanted to get rid of key people on the team … I was basically by myself. [Or so] I thought.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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