More than a year after “Bachelor” contestant Gia Allemand committed suicide, her former boyfriend Ryan Anderson opened up to Sports Illustrated about their relationship, her death and its aftermath.
“I think it’s really important for me to talk about it,” the pro basketball player told the magazine. "People need to put a face to [suicide prevention and survival], and I’m OK being that face. 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.”
According to Chris Ballard, who wrote the Sports Illustrated article, “Ryan still talks to Gia sometimes, when he’s alone at home or driving the car. When he’s having a bad day, he tells her he wishes she were still here.”
After making it to the top three on Season 14 of the ABC reality-dating competition “The Bachelor” in 2010, Allemand met Anderson, who plays for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Until a few weeks before her death, Anderson had planned to propose, according to the magazine.
On Aug. 12, 2013, the two got into a heated argument, during which Allemand accused Anderson of cheating on her and he — in a moment the magazine said he “instantly regretted” — told her he no longer loved her. After returning home, Gia's mother, Donna Micheletti, tried to call him twice, but he didn’t pick up the phone until Micheletti’s husband texted him: “There’s something wrong with Gia. You need to go check on her.”
Upon arrival, Anderson reportedly found her hanging from her staircase, dialed 911, called her mother, and found a note: “Mom gets everything.” Paramedics rushed Allemand to the hospital while Anderson was questioned by police, argued with Micheletti, and broke down in front of his head coach, Monty Williams.
The next day, Anderson visited Allemand at the hospital, where he and Micheletti reportedly hugged and cried in each other's arms.
Allamand died a day later. She was 29 years old.
After weeks of grieving and feeling unmotivated, Anderson was encouraged by Williams to rejoin the basketball team, and in the process found the gym to be a "sanctuary,” according to Sports Illustrated.
More recently, Anderson has become an advocate for women's issues, and is working with Micheletti to create a foundation in Allemand's name. He's also on a mission to prevent people from labeling suicide victims as selfish.
“Anyone who knows Gia knows that selfish was the last thing she was,” Ryan told Sports Illustrated. “She would never want to cause anyone suffering. She just wanted to escape the pain.”
Although his future is uncertain, Anderson’s emotional state has improved.
He told the magazine, “I can finally say after a long time of thinking that there’s no hope and there’s no future, I can see a hope and I can see a future."
Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.