Red Wings Announcer Ken Daniels Discusses Son's Overdose Death

By Kelly Burch 11/29/17

At the time of his death, the 23-year-old had been sober for seven months and was residing in a sober living home.

Ken Daniels, Bob Cole & Jamie Daniels
(from left to right) Ken Daniels, Bob Cole, Jamie Daniels Photo via YouTube

Last year on December 7, Detroit Red Wings announcer Ken Daniels heard a knock on his door. It was the police. His 23-year-old son Jamie, who had been sober for seven months, was found dead of an overdose at his sober home in South Florida.

Nearly a year after Jamie’s death, Daniels is speaking out about his son’s addiction and fight to get clean, hoping that others will recognize how difficult addiction is to overcome, and to help other young people in need. 

"To [Jamie's] credit, which is another reason why we're speaking out about this now, he tried,” Daniels told Fox2. “He tried so damn hard to get clean and he did it. Then, circumstances took over, probably beyond his control. He was too easy to go back and kids in his state, and all kids who are addicts—and let's not be ashamed about it anymore; there are too many—they need direction all the time.”

Daniels, who is a hockey announcer and author of the book If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Red Wings, said that people perceived him differently after his son's death. 

"'He's the one who does games on TV.' Now it's become, 'There's that guy whose son passed away,'" Daniels said. "That's how I feel I've become known.”

Daniels believes that Jamie became addicted to opioids after having his wisdom teeth removed during his senior year. At the time of his death, Jamie had been sober for seven months and was residing in a sober living home in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was working in law, which he had studied in college.

Sadly, autopsy results showed that he died of an acute heroin and fentanyl overdose. "Kids today gotta know, you've gotta get away from this stuff," Daniels said.

He added that Jamie’s death has profoundly changed his life. "How do you go on when someone says, 'How you doing today?' Well, how do you think I'm doing? But, there's a time when people forget and you go on. So, when anyone says, 'How you doing?' to me now? The thought in the back of my head is, I'll never be great. I just won't be. And, right away, Jamie comes to mind," he said. 

He finds strength in his family, and in the hope that sharing his story will help another family in crisis. 

"How do you go on? Why? Because of my daughter; because of my wife; because of my two stepkids. That's why you go on. That's my how and why,” Daniels said. “Family gets you through it, and now maybe part of my 'why' is speaking out and helping out in this way to save somebody else."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.