SOMETIMES PEOPLE APPROACH me and ask, “Don’t I know you?”If they’re sports fans, they probably do. In addition to covering sports for AL.com, I’m a sports broadcaster for ESPN and SEC Network. Here in football-crazy Alabama, I get recognized a lot.
The attention is flattering. But it’s also ironic. For a long time, even after I became a presence on TV, I worked very hard to keep myself hidden.
No one knew the real me. Not my coworkers. Not my teammates and mentors during my competitive gymnastics days. Not my closest friends and family members. Not even me.
What was the secret I worked so hard to hide?
My mom and dad were drug addicts. They were wonderful, supportive parents, people of abiding faith and love. But from the time I was a teenager, both were hooked on prescription pain medicine. I was in college when they died, hours apart, from drug overdoses. By that point, they were barely functioning. Their finances were so chaotic, everything they owned was auctioned off to pay bills after they died. My older brother managed to bid on a few keepsakes from our childhood.
That’s what really happened. Here’s the version I told everyone else, including myself: Mom and Dad were normal people who took medication for some chronic pain issues. Their lethargy, financial woes and explosions of anger when pills ran low were just everyday family problems.
“Mom had respiratory fa