Donald Trump Opens Up About His Brother’s Death From Alcoholism

By May Wilkerson 10/13/15

The Republican front-runner said his brother's struggle is what kept him away from drugs and alcohol.

Donald Trump

In a rare display of humanity, Donald Trump recently opened up to PEOPLE about the death of his brother Freddy Jr. (III) from alcoholism in 1981, at age 42. The Republican presidential candidate said the loss had a “profound impact” on his life and largely shaped his decision to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

"He was a great guy, a handsome person. He was the life of the party. He was a fantastic guy, but he got stuck on alcohol," said Trump, 69. "And it had a profound impact and ultimately [he] became an alcoholic and died of alcoholism.”

The real estate mogul said his brother’s death impressed upon him the powerful nature of alcoholism. "I've known so many people that were so strong and so powerful [yet] they were unable to stop drinking,” he said.

In fact, Trump has never had a sip of alcohol or smoked a cigarette and he won’t touch coffee, he told Esquire this past June. “I just stay away from those things because [Freddy] had such a tremendous problem,” he said. “Fred did me a great favor. It's one of the greatest favors anyone's ever done for me.”

Of his five kids, Trump said he’s raised them to be wary of substance abuse, though they don’t abstain from alcohol like he does. "I think they drink a little bit, but not much,” he said. He told PEOPLE last week that he has tried to give his kids a relatively stable upbringing. "I always prided myself on being a good father,” he said. “With my children, I was always available."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.