Stan Van Gundy Credit: South Beach Sessions Podcast

Longtime NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy lost his wife Kim last August but continued to work as an analyst at TNT Sports throughout the season, keeping relatively quiet on the massive loss he experienced.

In an interview with Dan Le Batard on South Beach Sessions released Friday, Van Gundy opened up about the sudden loss of Kim, who took her own life after more than 30 years of marriage, and how it has affected him as a man, a father, and a public figure. Van Gundy revealed how Kim’s advice led him to leave X/Twitter after going viral for his opinions on politics and social justice over the years, as well as how small moments with his TNT Sports colleagues continue to leave him sad and regretful as he works through his grief and guilt.

“She took her own life, and I’ll never, I don’t care how long it goes, I can’t imagine that I’ll ever get over that … it was devastating,” Van Gundy said. “We’d been married for 35 years, and had been together for close to 40 years, since I was 24 years old … my entire adult life, I trace everything, job changes, kids, everything, I was with her and she was by my side.”

Van Gundy had just returned alongside Kim from a trip to Europe with their children and was enjoying another summer together when she passed away.

“I never, ever envisioned that I was going to live another day in my life without Kim. I never envisioned that,” Van Gundy said. “And I knew she was going through a tough time, but I still never envisioned that happening. And even now, it’s been eight months and I struggle to come to grips with the fact that I’m never going to see her again, and I’m trying hard … to stay connected.

“But more than anything, to live her values. Because her values were better than mine. She taught me a lot, and I want to live her values and a life that she would be proud of. And my kids at times over the last eight months, not often but I think genuinely from their point of view, I’ll do something and they’ll say, ‘Mom would have really been proud of you for that one.’ And that above anything else really makes me feel good because my wife was an incredible person and the loss is huge.”

Van Gundy revealed he is in therapy constantly, even remotely while traveling for work. He connects with his children daily and continues to be a caretaker for his own parents. He is trying to find strength in being there for his loved ones like his wife was for many.

Still, Van Gundy admitted he feels a tremendous burden of guilt over the idea that he failed to help give Kim the life she wanted to live. Van Gundy said he knows that in reality, Kim was fighting a losing battle a mental illness that took her life. But with so little time to heal so far, he still struggles to overcome the guilt.

“I was blessed with an unbelievable woman and a great family. And my responsibility in this life, my primary responsibility was and is to this day to take care of those five people, in every way possible,” Van Gundy told Le Batard. “And my wife reached a point of despair and hopelessness and whatever else where her life and her life with me was not worth living anymore. And my responsibility was to take care of her and to give her a great life, and I failed in that.

“My therapist will tell me no, it was mental illness … on an intellectual level, I get that. I get that he’s right. But what I’m saying … is not that I’m correct in my feeling, but that is my feeling. And there’s a difference between my head knowing that this was a true illness going on with her, that’s different than what my gut tells me every single day. I can be on a Zoom call with my therapist and know what he’s telling me is right, and an hour later, it just doesn’t feel that way. That’s what I can’t reconcile, is the feeling.”

Van Gundy recalled being in Connecticut to call this year’s NCAA tournament with Kevin Harlan and the production staff. When they finished their Elite Eight broadcast, the lead producer organized a dinner to celebrate a successful year.

Harlan told the group he’d be down for dinner after running up to his room to change clothes and call his wife. When Van Gundy heard that, he was overcome with emotion and cried in his hotel room before the event.

In processing Kim’s death, Van Gundy said he has tried to embrace what made her special and take her advice to speak less off the cuff and think about how he uses his platform.

“She was the kindest person that I have ever known,” Van Gundy said. “My wife was the person that, she would go into a room or be at an event and what she was always looking for is who was off by themselves? Who didn’t have anybody to talk to, and that’s where she would go immediately. We would be at these events and there would be all these people with big names and everything else, and she didn’t care about any of that.”

Kim ran the family group when Van Gundy worked for the Detroit Pistons, and was part of his efforts as a teacher for incarcerated people through a community education project in Florida.

In continuing to honor her and be a rock for his children and parents, Van Gundy displays tremendous strength. By speaking about it openly when the pain is so fresh, Van Gundy also offers strength to others dealing with loss.

He is calling the NBA’s Western Conference finals for TNT Sports this month.

[South Beach Sessions]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.