Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf will give a talk about overcoming his struggles with drug addiction and mental health issues during a community breakfast at Crystal Lake’s Sage YMCA.
The breakfast is set for 7 to 9 a.m. Dec. 6 at the YMCA, 701 Manor Road, Crystal Lake.
Leaf currently is a program ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community, a sober-living company.
According to a flyer, Leaf is an advocate for those struggling with mental and behavioral health issues and encourages audiences to transform the way they think about mental health issues and addiction.
Leaf was the No. 2 overall draft pick – behind Peyton Manning – in the 1998 draft and started his career with the San Diego Chargers before also playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks during his NFL career. However, his inability to cope with the stresses of the NFL eventually caused the demise of his professional football career. After his retirement, he began to abuse prescription opiates.
In 2012, Leaf’s battles with depression and addiction eventually lead to a 32-month stint in prison on burglary and drug charges.
After leaving prison, Leaf sought inpatient treatment and started his recovery, including getting his first job at Transcend. He now lives a life of “purpose and peace,” according to a flyer for the community breakfast.
Proceeds from the talk will benefit the YMCA’s Financial Assistance Program, which helps people participate in programs and YMCA memberships in times of need.