NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor made a visit to A Forever Recovery, a drug rehabilitation facility in Battle Creek, Mich., on November 24, to speak with current patients about his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.
Taylor had a successful career with the New York Giants, but also developed a serious drug problem. He learned quickly that having a large amount of money, as well as a lot of free time, led to big problems, which landed him in rehab three times.
He opened up by saying that he used to hate hearing other people’s stories of how they struggled, and what led them to get back on the straight and narrow, but soon those stories became one of the biggest factors in his decision to change his attitude and get sober.
“I think the only way to help you guys recover, or help yourself recover, is to listen to other people’s stories,” said Taylor. “When I started in the NFL, I didn’t do any drugs. I didn’t do any drugs in college, I didn’t do any drugs in high school. None of that type of stuff. When I started in the NFL I was a pretty good player and ran through the league pretty good.”
“When I started playing, it was like a man playing with boys. I was just that much better than everybody else. I wanted to challenge myself, so I’d be out all night drinking and when the game started at 1 o’clock, I’d get there at around 12, and I thought that I was Superman because I could do that. Well, then I started doing recreational drugs like cocaine and all of that; later on it became a day job. I couldn’t stop. I started doing drugs and graduated to crack. Once I found crack, there was nothing better, I was completely gone.”
Taylor shared several stories from his past, and most importantly, how he recovered and what got him to where he is today.
Here are a few excerpts from the question and answer portion during his appearance:
On whether his addiction ever hurt his performance on the football field: “Not at first, but as the years mounted up, I think it did hurt my performance on the field. You get tired and you get to a point that all you want is to get that hit, so to a point it did.”
On what he’s doing to maintain his recovery: “One thing is I talk to a lot of people. I talk to a lot of people. I have a lot of friends that are into drugs, the big thing now are pills, that’s the killer right now. I really don’t have an answer for the pills, they’re just so prevalent. That’s a hard thing to stop. I mean, listen, all of my kids are grown, but I have a little boy at home, who we adopted about six years ago, he’s nine years old now and he’s the love of my life. Every time I look at him, I don’t have to worry about doing any more drugs.”
On whether he can identify the biggest factor that made him want to get sober: “I had legal problems, but when I spent my last 30 days at rehab and Charlie (my counselor) came to me and said, ‘You know you’re going to be back here, do you want to do it my way?’ Once I made that decision in my mind and in my heart, no more playing games, I’m here, let’s do this, let’s get this corrected, do the right thing and get this problem over with, I stayed there for those 32 days and I got it. I think we all wait for something to hit us in the head and say, ‘Oh, wow, I got it now.’ No, it’s a process that we have to go through. There’s the denial, everyone is going to have a process that’s going to go against what you’re trying to achieve. But at some point in time, I promise you – and it might not be the first time, or the second time, or third – at some time, I promise you, you’re going to get it, or you’re going to be dead. One or the other. That’s when I got it and I kept it and as time went on I became grateful. It was a prized possession I had. Put in all this work, just to smoke it away? No. I’ve been very fortunate.”