4 Famous Athletes Who Have Battled With Substance Abuse


American basketball player of the Dallas Mavericks, Roy Tarpley, died at age 50 at the Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital in January of 2015. Reports did not provide an exact cause of death, but members of the Mavericks believe that liver failure caused his death. Mr. Tarpley was banned from the NBA in 1995 for violating the terms of his court-imposed personal aftercare program, and for abusing alcohol. Derek Harper, one of his former teammates, stated on the Star-Telegram,

“It’s a tough deal because when somebody doesn’t reach their full potential and they leave here premature…it’s unfortunate. What makes this so unfortunate is that Roy, we know that he had the potential to be great, but we’ll never know how great he would have been.”

Movie stars and musicians aren’t the only ones who battle with addiction – athletes face extreme pressure and are also prone to substance abuse. The Huffington Post states that professional athletes can obtain “global dominance, amassing untold wealth and fame, power, and influence.” Even with these benefits, even top-performers can struggle with mental disorders and addiction. For famous athletes, the pressure to stay on top is a huge one, and many choose to cope with substance abuse. Here are 5 athletes who have struggled with this:

  • Dwight Gooden – American former professional baseball player who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball has struggled with cocaine addiction in the past, but he has been recovery now and the last time he used was March 4th, 2011, according to NY Daily News. He told the reporter, “When I look back at everything I’ve done, even it it’s just everything I did to my body, I never thought I’d live this long.”
  • Lamar Odom – Los Angeles Lakers star nearly lost his life to cocaine addiction after being found comatose in a Las Vegas brothel. His wife, Khloe Kardashian, divorced him and the star has since been in rehab. He stated for U.S. Magazine, “Living sober, meaning no drugs, is a great feeling. Being in the moment is important – how you react, respond, create.”
  • Derek Boogaard – Professional ice hockey player for the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, died at age 28 from a toxic mix of alcohol and painkillers in May of 2011. A teammate of his stated, “As players, at times you think you’re indestructible.”

Some athletes have been luckier than others, and have had a chance at rehabilitation and reaching towards their full potential. For those whose lives were lost, we will remember their contributions to history and take their life stories as lessons learned – recognizing the importance of seeking help before it’s too late.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery treatment center. If you’re battling with substance abuse, call us today at 888-743-0490 for a consultation. Seeking help could save your life.