Former college basketball player, John Lucas, has taken his life back and grown into a better person after recovering from drug addiction. Although successful as a player for Maryland in the mid-70s and bouncing around different teams during the remainder of his pro career, Lucas lost a lot of time and money dealing with issues of addiction.
Drugs and alcohol almost ruined his life but he found recovery and was able to turn things around for a positive outcome. Lucas says that addiction made him violate every value he ever had and recovery has been the greatest gift he has ever received in life.
After the end of his athletic career, Lucas was able to remain involved in professional basketball as a coach for teams such as the Spurs and the Cavaliers and has counseled others on how to stay clean.
Problems with Drugs as an Athlete
John Lucas was able to play in the NBA for fourteen years on six different teams but dealt with addiction for much of his time as an athlete. He lost his job twice because of drug problems until he was able to admit he had an addiction and work toward recovery.
Lucas says at the time people didn't understand that his issues with drugs were a disease and not a question of willpower. His problems with cocaine and alcohol became public while he was still in the NBA and several of his teammates were banished for cocaine usage.
Lucas submitted voluntarily to anti-drug and anti-alcohol treatment in order to stay in the league. He was successful in his drug rehabilitation and even started programs of his own to help other athletes recover from addiction.
The last time Lucas used drugs was in 1986 when he tested positive for cocaine while playing for the Rockets. He has been sober for 29 years and believes that since he admitted to having a problem he had to go back and grow up as an adult, a process that has been painful but rewarding.
Coaching and Counseling for the NBA
Lucas was able to recover from his addictions both through a rehab program and the help of twelve step meetings. He has used the twelve step approach in his coaching by helping teams like the San Antonio Spurs crush their egos, accept shortcomings, believe in something greater and learn to care for each other.
Lucas maintains that this type of approach works well for NBA teams which need to eliminate ego and believe that their teammates will be there for them. As a coach he helped players become more accountable and feel empowered to improve their performance in the game. Lucas has been active in helping many players and coaches who are addicts find their way to recovery.
He wants to help each addict move forward so that they can help the next one and experience the gift of recovery that he is able to appreciate. Lucas led the San Antonio Spurs, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers as the first recovering addict/alcoholic to coach a major league team.
John Lucas has since retired as an NBA coach but made major contributions to his teams and the members of the league dealing with addiction as well. Although his athletic career may have been affected by his addictions, his recovery changed his life for the better.
Lucas is now involved in camps for young kids at an elite level for fourth through eighth graders. His son of the same name now plays for the NBA as a guard for the Detroit Pistons. Lucas accomplished plenty during his time with the NBA but his recovery from addiction has been his greatest blessing.