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By Trishna Buch
Randy Grimes is living proof that, no matter how out-ofcontrol,
scary and terrible one’s life can get, there are
always opportunities and chances to make a change.
The former NFL football player recently attended the
rect town hall meeting sponsored by the TCPD and Chief
Robert Burby where he spoke about his journey through
addiction and how he managed to kick the habit.
Born and raised in Tyler, Grimes “had the best childhood
ever.” The majority of his childhood years were
spent in school, being with friends and family, and playing
the sport he was passionate about—football. “I started
playing in the fourth grade,” he told me. This fourth
grade introduction to the game carried him all the way to
college, at which time he received a football scholarship
to Baylor University. After graduating from Baylor, Grimes
was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, in 1983,
made the move from Waco to Tampa, Florida.
It was at this time that Grimes’ struggle with addiction
began. Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Grimes had not
had any history of substance abuse whatsoever. “Nobody
I knew dealt with addiction; not my family and not
my friends,” he told me. However, when he began playing
for the Buccaneers, he told me that he always wanted to
pay attention to what the “older players did and what kept
them around.” He decided that he had to stay on the field
at any cost, and began taking painkillers to help manage
the pain caused by football related injuries. “It’s all
about that warrior mentality that’s been passed down to
us from our fathers, and to our fathers from their fathers.
The mentality that you just have to deal with it and keep
playing,” Grimes told me. Grimes told me that he would
justify this addiction by looking at it as a necessary evil,
rather than an addiction. “And I had a lot of people—teammates,
coaches, fans, etc. who allowed this addiction to
continue, just as long as I played well.” Grimes told me
that in the last two years of his 10 year Buccaneer career,
he began experiencing blackouts while playing. “I’d come
to the next day and I’d be injured and dehydrated, but
I could never remember where the injuries came from.”
He also told me that he could never remember how he
played and “had to watch it with everyone else.”
In 1993, after Grimes retired, he told me that he took
his addiction to his daily life. Unfortunately, this addiction
started to show its effects on Grimes family, friends and
life. “I was quite manipulative towards my family and I
was losing jobs. Eventually my family got tired of me saying
I was sorry, so my wife reached out to an individual
who worked at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches.”
Grimes told me that this particular individual was leaving
to go to another organization, but—more than 20 years after
beginning his addiction—in September 2009, Grimes
entered the Behavioral Health Of The Palm Beaches to
start his journey into kicking his addiction.
“I was there for 90 days, but when my time was over,
I wasn’t ready to leave.” Grimes was worried that, without
being in the facility, which he had deemed his safe
space, he would spiral out of control again. Therefore, he
purchased a home near to the facility and started off by
going on the grounds each day and picking up cigarette
butts. “That’s how it started and eventually I moved on to
volunteering,” Grimes told me. After reaching a year of
sobriety, Grimes began working as a public relations person
for the facility, working with former NFL and former
Major League Baseball (MLB) players. “I just wanted to
give them the same gift that was given to me,” he told me.
Eventually, one thing led to another, and now Grimes is
an Interventionist and the Business Development Director
at Behavioral Health Of The Palm Beaches.
Grimes told me that he was helped “hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds” of former athletes kick their addiction
habit. “But I also believe in educating families. Because
if the families are educated, than they can help
their loved one”, he told me. And Grimes told me that, in
the nine years he has been with the facility, he has got
back his identity and sense of purpose. “When I left the
Buccaneers, I felt I had lost all sense of who I was. Randy
Grimes the football player did not exist anymore, and, for
the longest time, I did not know who I was.”
Fortunately, thanks to his tenacity and hard-work, he
was able to deal with addiction, kick the habit and regain
his sense of self. And Grimes wanted to let everyone
know—regardless of whether they are dealing with addiction
or know someone dealing with addiction—that “there
is hope and there are resources. If you, or someone you
know, needs help, please get it. Because if you ignore it,
the problem will keep getting worse.”

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