Ryan Leaf was a number two, first round draft pick in 1998 for the San Diego Chargers. However, this NFL quarterback encountered some dangerous struggles with prescription pill addiction and also wound up on the wrong side of the law. Leaf stopped by The Ellen Show to talk about how he managed to turn his life around after his struggles.
DeGeneres introduced Leaf to the stage and said he had a competition with Peyton Manning for the number one draft spot in 1998. Leaf said he grew up in Montana and young men and women from there didn't really make it to the professional level that often. He said he believed because he was a great football player, it made him better than everyone.
He later realized that wasn't the case and that we're all flawed human beings just trying to be a better person on a daily basis. Leaf played four years professionally and went back to Montana after a failed career. After being introduced to vicodin tpo help heal from orthopedic surgeries, Leaf started turning to it to mask his emotional pain. He would take about 10 or 20 pills a day to get to 100mg.
Leaf said he started taking it from friends homes and even went to open houses to rumble through medicine cabinets to try and find the prescription drug. He said the shame of it was terrible but once they were in his hand, they disappeared. Leaf was arrested at 35 for having vicodin without a prescription and charged with burglary in his home town, where he was once a hero.
The former football star said he was always watching DeGeneres in his cell. He said her platform of service gave him his humanity back. DeGeneres said she feels like she is so lucky to touch people in the room, however, hearing she was able to reach someone from prison was amazing. Leaf started teaching his inmates how to read and did a service to someone for the first time in his life.
Leaf currently has a foundation called Focus Intensity in which he raises money for scholarships for people who can't afford mental health treatment. He says he doesn't ever want someone who wants to change their life to not be able to do it out of the inability to pay for it. You can check out Ryan Leaf's interview with Ellen DeGeneres in the video below.