#GreatMTLer: Former NFLer Alvin Powell gets a second chance
Former NFL offensive lineman Alvin Powell says after being addicted to drugs, he’s grateful for his second chance at life.
“I was in hell and I know exactly what brought me out of that. I know what protected me in literally hundreds of circumstances,” he said.
Born in Panama, Powell got his big break when he was drafted to the NFL.
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He played with the Seattle Seahawks before joining the Miami Dolphins in 1989, where he played two games before resigning.
“I completely destroyed my NFL career because of drugs and I was just totally out of control,” he told Global News.
He first smoked marijuana at the age of 21, before turning to harder drugs. By the time his football career ended, he was addicted to cocaine and hit rock bottom in a crack house in Montreal.
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“[I] totally humiliated my family, myself, my team, the community and when you’re a pro athlete, you’re in the media and everybody knows about it,” he said.
“So, I figured I’d come to Canada to put an end to my life.”
Instead, Powell found a new beginning as he dragged himself off the streets and cleaned himself up.
“It’s a crazy story. I was bodyguarding Britney Spears on tour, got a call from a rabbi who was running a crisis centre here in Montreal. I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘you’ve got the wrong guy,'” he said.
Rabbi Ronnie Fine, founder and executive director of Chabad Lifeline, which helps people living with addiction, hired Powell as a drug counsellor.
In 2004, Powell worked with Montreal entrepreneur Richard Marroni to launch the Saving Station Foundation to keep young people from spiralling into the world of drugs.
“I just tell them the truth. I don’t sugar-coat everything,” Powell told Global News.
“I tell them just the way it is. I let them know exactly how it is out there.”
Over the last 14 years, Powell has visited hundreds of high schools to deliver his powerful anti-drug message to thousands of children.
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The organization also provides one-on-one counselling for families to help their kids get clean.
“I was at a point in my life where I felt I wasn’t worth nothing to nobody, you understand?” he said tearfully.
“Today, people are bringing me their children, their most precious gift, the thing they value the most. They’re bringing them to me and I’m very grateful.”
Powell will be sworn in as a Canadian citizen later this year.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.