Grounded Jet Ready for Take-Off
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For 24-year old New York Jets up-and-comer Erik Ainge, the trouble all began with a bong hit. He was 11 years old at the time. And when he got older and started playing football seriously, the painkillers he was given for injuries--the prescriptions that were supposed to last a week--would last Ainge a day at best. For most of his rookie NFL year, "it was painkillers--and lots of them. I was taking 25 Percocets at a time. Five hours later, I'd do it again. Another eight hours, and I'd do it again." As ESPN reports: "Ainge had already gone to rehab once in 2009, but started drinking again and relapsed. He said it was a trip back to Tennessee in the summer of 2010 and some trouble he got into there that convinced him that he needed help. Of note, he says the police let him go, and he was never prosecuted." As Ainge recalls the turning point: "It never got reported because the cops were Tennessee fans, and they saw how bad a shape I was in." Now clean and sober for nine months, and dealing with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the Jets backup quarterback has decided to publically share his story. In a recent interview with ESPN, Ainge admits: “I'm a drug addict… My addiction is with the hardest of hard drugs--heroin, cocaine and alcohol. During my days of using… I would've made Charlie Sheen look like Miss Daisy.” While he's technically still a New York Jet, and continues to pocket the four-year $1.9 million contract he signed as a rookie, it's not clear he will ever suit up for the team again. Facing the prospect of never playing professional sports again is a real concern, Ainge admits, but for now he says he will take it “One Day at a Time,” just like the new tattoo on his wrist says. But an older, much bigger tat blazed across his back still reminds him of a less serene stretch of his life: “Crazy White Boy”.