Sober Oscar De La Hoya Gives Back
The former boxing champ, now 19 months sober, says holiday charity work "feeds the soul."
There was a time, says "Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya, when he had millions of fans, but only one true friend: “the bottle.” Now 19 months sober, the former champ, who defeated 17 world champions and took ten world titles in six different weight classes, says he’s in a different place: “I feel the friendship. I feel the warm. I feel the love.” De La Hoya retired in 2009; in May 2011, he was admitted to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. After completing his rehab stint, he gave a series of interviews that revealed a less than “golden” past—speaking out about his cocaine addiction, alcohol abuse, sex scandals, and even thoughts of suicide. Today, De La Hoya says he is grateful and “happy to be alive.” He has taken up golf, and as the holidays approach, is focused on giving back to others. Last week, De La Hoya gave away free tickets to a boxing card at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and organized a toy drive with other boxers such as Peter Quillin and Danny Jacobs. "This is basically feeding the soul," he says of his charity work. “It feels so good, it really does, to be able to do something for someone and see them smile and see the impact.” But although De La Hoya's present looks bright, he admits to harboring some regrets about the past—especially the impact his alcohol and drug use may have had on his career. "I think about it, not every single day but almost, that if this person I am today I had been during my fighting days, the sky would have been the limit," he says. "I almost touched the sky. I wasn't quite there, but if I had been the man I am today, I definitely would have been so much more and been walking on the clouds."