Roy Halladay’s wife reveals heartbreaking accounts of his addiction

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On the mound, Roy Halladay was an all-time great, a Hall of Fame pitcher and eight-time All-Star who was one of the very best of his era.

Off the field, his life was far more challenging, a fight against an addiction to opioids, dealing with the spotlight he preferred to avoid and doing anything possible to make those close to him proud.

The real Roy Halladay is revealed in the latest edition of ESPN’s “E:60” documentary series. In “Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story,” his family speaks out about the side of the ace right-hander few knew, from his chemical dependency to fear of failure and the tragic plane accident that took his life.

“[He had a] demon that had a strong hold on him,” said Steve Trax, the family’s financial advisor who would become a close friend.

Halladay twice went to a rehabilitation center, once as a member of the Phillies, and on Nov. 7, 2017 he died after crashing his ICON A5 amphibious plane off the Gulf of Mexico. In January of 2018, it was revealed that he had a number of drugs in his system at the time: a muscle relaxer, an opioid, a sleep aid, morphine and an antidepressant. Four forensic pathologists were interviewed by ESPN and agreed it’s likely Halladay was impaired in some form that day. It’s unclear, however, by how much.

Roy Halladay
Roy HalladayAP

His wife Brandy could sense Halladay had a dependency problem long before he became a star pitcher. She noticed it first before the two married in November of 1998. She would see him chewing tobacco tins all over their home. Halladay would go on his own a lot, in a room to be by himself. Once, she found a number of empty whiskey bags. He explained it as taking advantage of freedom he didn’t have growing up.

It was an early sign of problems bubbling underneath the surface. A first-round pick of the Blue Jays (17th overall) in the 1995 draft, Halladay reached the big leagues in 1998. But Halladay failed to reach the high expectations set for him, and by 2000, he was failing. The “B” word – bust – was getting tossed around, his ERA a bloated 10.64 that season. According to Brandy, the team had sent him for counseling to deal with his on-field problems and alcohol use. He had been nicknamed “Minibar” because of his affinity for drinking in his room. Halladay was embarrassed at what he had become, not wanting to build a home in Colorado.

“I would jump out the window, but with my luck I’d only break my leg and still have to go to the field tomorrow,” he told her one night while sitting in their third-floor apartment that spring.

Halladay eventually figured out his pitching struggling, in part due to a lowered arm angle that added movement to his pitches and by cutting down on his drinking. He developed into a dominant pitcher, winning a major league-best 170 games from 2002-11 while notching 63 complete games and 18 shutouts.

Still, he wasn’t living the perfect life. He needed sedatives to sleep and often threw up before his starts. He dealt with anxiety, making his role as a public figure that much tougher. It didn’t get any easier after he signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies. He felt the need to always pitch and so in Game 5 of the 2010 NLCS, with the Phillies facing elimination, he gutted through a pulled groin. The following year, in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, Halladay felt a pop in his back. He pitched though that, too, going eight innings.

“When he came home, he was just in so much pain, and I remember watching him get up out of bed and … he sneezed. He fell onto the ground and was sitting on all fours, and he was in so much pain, he couldn’t get back up and he laid there for probably 10 to 15 minutes,” Brandy said.

She wanted him to give up baseball. He resisted.

“In his mind, he had to keep playing no matter what he was doing to himself physically,” Brandy said.

He began taking opioid prescription pills in the spring of 2012, as he fought off shoulder problems related to stress fractures in his lower back and an eroded disc in his spine, and became hooked. Following the 2012 season, the problem became obvious. Halladay was having withdrawal. After the 2013 season, he retired. But four years later, he would lose his life. His obsession with continuing to pitch, and the drugs that helped him stay on the mound, may have contributed to that heartbreaking ending.

“Given the level of pain he was under, [opioids] allowed him to get on the field and compete,” Trax said. “And listen, I don’t fault Roy for that, given how I know him and his makeup and his focus and his desire to not fail.”

nypost.com

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