Love and success seemed to lead to pain.
That feeling intensified in the N.B.A. After some injuries and surgeries, he ended up addicted to opioids, exacerbating his long-running gambling addiction. Retirement from basketball led to deeper addiction. Chapman burned through money. By his 40s, he was crashing on couches and shoplifting goods to pawn for cash. His wife, Bridget, divorced him in 2012.
At the height of his addiction, Chapman was consuming about 10 OxyContin and 40 Vicodin pills per day, chewing them to get them into his bloodstream quicker.
“At some point, I had just resigned myself to the fact that my life’s just going to be as a drug addict,” he said, adding an expletive for emphasis.
In September 2014, he was caught shoplifting more than $14,000 worth of electronics and was arrested. His sister, Jenny, took him in, and with the help of friends persuaded Chapman to go to a rehab center in Louisville, Ky., where his college roommate, Paul Andrews, was an executive. “Saved my life,” Chapman said.
After Chapman got clean, he began speaking in public about recovering from addiction. He found work covering Kentucky athletics on the radio for a regional media company around 2016. The company pushed him to be more active on social media, particularly on Twitter, but Chapman resisted. “The landscape was just toxic. Everybody hating each other,” he said.
A dolphin video changed everything: “I saw a video one day of a school of dolphins swimming out to sea, and a guy on a paddle board coming in, and a dolphin jumped up and hit him in the chest and knocked him off. And I said to myself, ‘That’s a charge,’” Chapman said, adding another expletive. (The account that first shared the video is now suspended.)
This story originally Appeared on Nytimes.com