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5 fighters who beat drug addiction and turned their lives around

5 fighters who beat drug addiction and turned their lives around
Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Drug addiction is a disease that can take over the lives of even the strongest people. It consumes you and leaves you vulnerable and helpless.

Only the minority overcome drug addiction, and to do so you need a vice, something to focus on and dedicate your time too. MMA has been that vice for several people. Requiring strict discipline, dedication, passion and respect, it’s easy to see why many people suffering from drug addiction turn to MMA in search of a brighter future.

This article features 5 of these people who beat the odds and turned their lives around, to become not only successful fighters but successful people.

5) Lyle Beerbohm

Lyle Beerbohm was a successful High school wrestler up until his senior year when he began using methamphetamine. He quickly became addicted which then spiralled into a gambling addiction. Lyle dropped out of school and spent several stints in jail.
It was in jail where Beerbohm discovered the ultimate fighter, this discovery in his own words “saved his life”.

Lyle fell in love with the sport and joined an MMA gym the day he was released from prison. He won his first fight 8 days later and went on to have a successful career, compiling a record of 25-3 including 16 straight wins to start his career.

Lyle Beerbohm

Lyle Beerbohm

Lyle Beerbohm

Lyle Beerbohm

Next: James Irvin

4) James Irvin

Irvin was a fan favourite knockout artist in the UFC, he had a mix of both wins and losses but always went out to put on a show. In 2008 Irvin was a huge underdog as he fought Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Irvin was finished in the first round and it was after this fight that he tested positive for methadone and oxymorphone.

Irvin subsequently admitted to taking the drugs, stating that he had begun taking painkillers legally as treatment for injuries, and had then become addicted to them. ”I needed to get caught,” Irvin told the Canadian Press. “I needed to get in trouble for it and wake me up and get off of those things.” Irvin’s parents both struggled with addiction, but the Sandman claims he never touched a drug until he arrived in the UFC. Irvin beat the addiction, and although he never had the same success in the UFC as he previously did. The fact he overcame a pain killer addiction says a lot about him as a man.

James Irvin

James Irvin

Next: Ricco Rodriguez

3) Ricco Rodriguez

Ricco Rodriguez was one of the best heavyweight fighters on the planet in the early 2000’s. He became the UFC heavyweight champion after defeating Randy Couture and seemed to be on track to dominate the game for years to come. This never quite came to fruition though as Ricco dropped his next 3 fights before having an up and down career for the next 10 years.

Many blame the cocaine addiction Ricco suffered from as one of the main reasons he never lived up to his full potential. When Ricco’s addiction started is anybody’s guess but at the suspected height of his problems he hit an all-time low in 2006. ”Ricco was driving with his girlfriend, high, when he slammed into an 18-wheeler then smashed into a wall. With his license already suspended for a DUI, he dragged the body of his girlfriend — who he thought was dead — and put her in the driver’s seat.

The cops came and fell for the switcheroo; the girlfriend, however, turned out to be alive.” Rodriguez managed to turn his life around after appearing on the TV show “Celebrity rehab”. This was the beginning of a career resurgence and a drug free life which remains to this day.

Ricco Rodriguez

Ricco Rodriguez

Next: Court McGee

2) Court McGee

Court McGee started abusing drugs soon after high school after falling in with the wrong crowd. McGee is a former heroin addict and in 2005, he was declared clinically dead after overdosing on heroin at his cousin's house. Before he was resuscitated McGee had to learn to walk, speak and function again after his first overdose. After his near-death experience, McGee suffered a couple of relapses. In order to test his willpower he took a trip to Las Vegas and decided to order just one drink. He woke up four days later in Iowa, not wearing any pants.

McGee has been sober since April 16, 2006, two weeks after the Vegas/Iowa incident. He began training in MMA and rebuilding relationships with his family, which helped restore order to his life. McGee shocked the MMA community when he came out of nowhere to win the eleventh season of the ultimate fighter. He has since gone 5-3 and remains in the UFC today after winning his last fight against Márcio Alexandre Jr at UFC 194. Since turning his life around McGee uses his story to encourage those who may be struggling with addictions of their own.

Court McGee

Court McGee

Next: Matt Brown

1) Matt Brown

Probably the most popular fighter and well known comeback story on this list. Matt Brown became addicted to Heroin and Alcohol early in life, an addiction which nearly cost him his life after a heroin overdose, he was declared clinically dead. After miraculously surviving, Matt had the wakeup call he needed. As he said later,” [Overdosing] was one of the best things to happen to me. When that happened it woke me up and I was like, ‘Man, I got to do something.’”

Brown has been sober ever since. After watching a Wanderlei Silva Pride fight on tv Matt knew he wanted to try MMA for himself. He worked odd jobs to support his MMA training, which eventually paid off when he was selected as a TUF 7 cast member. After a shaky start to his career, Brown went on to win an incredible 7 fights in a row before dropping a decision to now champion Robbie Lawler. He remains a top contender in the welterweight division after defeating Tim Means last year.

Brown is tied for most finishes in the welterweight division (11) as well as picking up 3 fight of the night awards and one knockout of the night honour. An incredible achievement after such a terrible start to life.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Next: The top 6 richest MMA fighters of all time