‘One & Done’ – Ben Simmons and his sister Liv each face their raw truth
Olivia Simmons explains how her and brother’s lives have been impacted by their own starkly different journeys
Rules, rebellion and deep revelations permeate every frame in the highly anticipated documentary film One & Done, which premiered Friday on Showtime Sports. For 90 minutes, viewers are drawn into life in 2015 of Ben Simmons, then the No. 1 NBA pick and now Philadelphia 76ers forward. In a year crowded with powerful docs, One & Done stands on its own as one of the most intriguing and resonant films of 2016.
We follow Simmons from his home in Melbourne, Australia, to his high school career move to Montverde Academy near Orlando, Florida. Focus then shifts to his one year at LSU and his journey to draft night. Throughout the film, Simmons wrestles with his newfound fame and the temptations surrounding him.
His family is also extremely candid about their opinions of the much debated one-and-done rule, which mandates that a player be one year removed from high school before he can declare for the NBA draft.
“Everyone knows who I am because LSU marketed me, and put me everywhere,” Simmons says in the film. “They treat me like a superstar, then the next day they say you’re not; that you’re just another student-athlete. They can’t expect me to act like everyone else if they don’t treat me like everyone else.”
But perhaps the most riveting piece of the film is how the overall family dynamic between the Simmons crew unfolds and how it briefly touches on the condition of his older sister, Olivia, nicknamed Liv. Liv and Ben are the youngest of the six Simmons children.
While Ben Simmons is navigating the transition from student-athlete to an NBA professional, it is revealed that Liv Simmons is navigating a critical transition of her own. The 25-year-old has been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and is working through those ramifications.
“I was diagnosed with bipolar and there’s this crazy stigma around it and that’s what’s scary,” Liv says. “You hear people every day use the word. People don’t get that. It’s going through mania and it’s going through depression. There’s different types and there’s different severities. And there’s different medications and there’s different ways to handle it. You can live a perfectly normal life. And I live a normal life. I’m a normal person. I just have restrictions, but it’s kind of like someone with diabetes.”
In the film, she called her brother to discuss her struggles.
“I look back on that call and I smile, because I needed to make that phone call. Had to. Because there is something very liberating and empowering about asking for help … People who aren’t afraid to ask for help are the strongest, most resilient people on this earth. I promise you. Because if you don’t know how to ask for help, how are you going to get anywhere?”
Liv spoke to The Undefeated about the film, her life coping with bipolar disorder and her new future as an advocate and coach.
I was about 19, and just something wasn’t right. I only have a very outgoing and extroverted personality. I couldn’t explain to anyone what I was doing. I thought people were going to think I was crazy. I absolutely did not feel like myself, I felt like someone else. It was hard to explain. My mania was bad.
I grew up really quickly, I had to grow up really quickly, because I had to take care of myself, my health, mental health and whatnot. I learned a lot about people in that time, I sat back and watched. I’ve traveled, so I’ve met different people, different races, cultures, backgrounds, all sorts of different people. I was blessed with the ability to be able to captivate people. That was my gift.
Ben’s like my best friend. He is highly intelligent. He knows something is going on, but Ben doesn’t ask questions. He didn’t get told anything during the season. Ben is where he is, and he doesn’t need anyone. I’ve been needing people for years. When you have bipolar, no one wants to ask you how you are. It’s like the pink elephant in the room. It’s like if I had cancer, you would ask me how I’m feeling today. If I had diabetes you’d ask, because you’d be concerned, but because you can’t see what I’m going through, it doesn’t exist.
If I could change it, if there was anything I could change in my life, I would probably fast-forward to myself already being the advocate that I want to be for mental health, that’s it. That’s all I’d change. I’ve come to realize I have to go through everything. I wouldn’t be this woman that I am with the knowledge that I have, if I hadn’t been through the horrible things that I’ve been through. I’m resilient and strong. There’s nothing I would change. The only thing in my life that I would want to be doing right now is being a voice.
Some people, like Ben, Ben was born with a gift. Some people are just given gifts, like how it is some people are given tools, and a box. My tool was to captivate people. How I use that tool is going to be up to me. I want to use that tool to help people, because someone has to do it. I always say I’m a forward, I’m like Ben, I was a forward that could dribble. Basketball in school for me, that didn’t go well. I never loved playing like Ben does. I was always good, and I was good enough to get by, and I was good enough to play semiprofessionally. I was never in love with it, like I’m in love with coaching. Ben is to basketball as I am to coaching.
My friendship group changed. It’s the day that I realized I had to surround myself with people that also wanted to be great and successful. People that were kind and compassionate. People who understood me, because I’m understanding. The best piece of advice my mum ever gave me, it’s always my mum, she gives the best advice. She said, ‘If you can count the number of good friends you have on one hand, you’re doing well for yourself.’
I take Trileptal. That’s what I take for my bipolar. I’m only on one. I also take a sleep med because I have insomnia. I take that occasionally when I need to sleep, but apart from that, there’s my Trileptal, which is my mood stabilizer, no antidepressants or anything.
I live by myself. I’m on my own. I lost 80 pounds. I’m healthy again. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve got my abs back, everything is all well and good back in the world.