Cowboys’ Aldon Smith on substance-abuse issues: ‘I was in a really dark place,’ slept under cars

The worst nights for Aldon Smith came about two years ago. Engulfed in legal and substance-abuse issues that cost him his place in the NFL about three years prior, he found himself opting for the pavement instead of his own bed. 

“I would say 2018 was a tough year,” Smith told Fox Sports. “In that year, I was in a really dark place. I didn’t have a lot of value for how I thought about myself. When I was in the bad spot, it got pretty bad. I was sleeping under a car for some nights because my sickness took me there, and I had a home to sleep in. But I was in such a dark place that I didn’t see myself deserving anything other than that.”

Smith, however, has been apparently sober for nine months now, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer said during the interview. Last week, Smith inked a one-year deal worth up to $4 million with the Dallas Cowboys; he hasn't appeared in an NFL game since November 2015. Smith will have to be reinstated by the league before he can play again. 

From sleeping under a car, to joining the @[email protected] tells @JayGlazer about his long journey back to the NFL: pic.twitter.com/osu8mV36h6

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Glazer is a co-founder of the Merging Vets and Players (MVP) program that Smith, 30, joined. In those settings, Smith found comfort in opening up to strangers and showing vulnerability.

“At the beginning of it I was a little hesitant to talk but the more I felt comfortable with those people, it really just became so therapeutic for me because I was able to get help for me because I was able to get help for things that I was dealing with and I was also able to help by sharing my story,” Smith told Glazer. 

Smith’s off-field issues also have included arrests on suspicions of domestic violence, a hit-and-run and DUI. He said his plan is to use his status as an NFL player to bring awareness to those who have gone through similar experiences. 

"It will give me a chance to help out others," he told Glazer. "It's not just deserving a shot to play. It's deserving a shot to use that platform, so I can help out other people." 

Smith's 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons are the most among any player. 

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