Khalil Greene's Experience with Social Anxiety

Khalil Greene has battled anxiety during his career.
Khalil Greene has experienced social anxiety while playing baseball. Rogers Photo Archive / Getty Images

Khalil Greene was a professional baseball player who left the sport due to his inability to cope with pressure and the spotlight. The following article summarizes his rise and fall as a baseball player as well as his personal characteristics.

Early Years

Khalil Thabit Greene was born on October 21, 1979 in Butler, Pennsylvania but spent most of his childhood in Key West, Florida. He played baseball at Key West high school and later was a star player at Clemson University.

He holds numerous records from his time at Clemson, including those for total bases, extra-base hits, home runs and RBI.

Greene graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 2002. In his spare time, Greene has been known to write hip hop lyrics. He also has been reported to be spiritual, adhering to the Baha'i faith.

Baseball Career

San Diego Padres

  • Greene was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2002, and played his first full season in 2004, coming in second place in voting for the National League Rookie of the Year.

  • Despite early success, Greene began to experience difficulty in 2008 when he broke his hand on July 30 after punching a storage box in frustration after striking out for the 100th time that year.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Greene did not play for the rest of the 2008 season and on December 4, 2008, was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • While a shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, Greene spent time on the disabled list in May and June of 2009 due to social anxiety disorder (SAD).

    Texas Rangers

    • In 2010 he signed a contract with the Texas Rangers but again experienced social anxiety in February of that year and did not attend spring training. His contract with the Rangers was later voided.

    Retired From Baseball

    In an article published in September 2014, sportswriter Rob Rains reported that Greene was refusing interviews and preferred to remain out of the spotlight.

    At the time, it was known that he lived near Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and two sons. Since leaving baseball, Greene has chosen to remain out of the public eye.

    Khalil Greene's Mental Health 

    In the past, Greene spoke publicly about having a long-standing pattern of emotional problems, of taking things more seriously than others, and of feeling mentally drained; however, he did not report physical symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heart or shortness of breath.

    In contrast to other athletes with social anxiety, there were also reports that Greene engaged in acts of self-harm such as cutting his hands, to relieve tension and anxiety, indicating complex mental health issues. Reports indicate that Greene received an undisclosed form of treatment for anxiety.

    Khalil Greene's Thoughts About Social Anxiety

    • "I don't know what level, as far as how much one internalizes the feelings, how deep they go to the core of a person, but for me it's always been pretty deep. I've always taken the game pretty seriously and wanted to perform well. It's been a love-hate relationship in a lot of ways."
    • "A lot of that is natural and it's a response to what you consider important. A lot of that is healthy, but for me, it wasn't healthy in terms of how deep it goes. I don't know how to describe it, other than the fact it wasn't pleasant."
    • "It was difficult to concentrate, difficult to sustain my energy level. All my energy was wasted trying to control myself. Just trying to get myself to function, to be able to stay in the game and not be thinking so much what I'm thinking. It's just a battle to be relaxed. I'm trying to battle that and find a way to come to terms with that, trying to find those coping mechanisms."

    A Word From Verywell

    Social and performance anxiety can hinder your success as an athlete. If you live with severe anxiety about participating in sports, treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or medication may be helpful.

    Contact your doctor for an assessment, referral, or more information. Social anxiety disorder is a common illness that can be effectively treated once identified.


    Hulsey J. Report: Cardinal's Khalil Greene Might be Cutting Himself

    NBC Sports. Whatever Happened to Khalil Greene?

    Rains R. Whatever happened to former Cardinals infielder Khalil Greene? 

    San Diego Tribune. What's the deal, Khalil?