Rex Chapman Triumphs Over Addiction

From NBA Stardom to Personal Redemption: Rex Chapman's Tale

by Zain ul Abedin
Rex Chapman Triumphs Over Addiction
© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Rex Chapman, the iconic former college and NBA star, has emerged as a beacon of resilience and hope in his gripping autobiography, "It's Hard for Me to Live with Me." Co-authored with CBS Sports' Seth Davis, this poignant narrative delves into Chapman's tumultuous journey from basketball glory to a harrowing battle with drug and gambling addiction, culminating in a profound transformation.

In his youth, Chapman was a celebrated figure at the University of Kentucky, known affectionately as "King Rex." His stellar performance on the court led to his selection as a first-round draft pick in 1988, setting the stage for a remarkable 12-year career in the NBA with teams like the Charlotte Hornets and Phoenix Suns.

However, beneath this facade of success, Chapman grappled with crippling anxiety, a struggle that began in his college days and manifested in a ritual of vomiting before each game. The autobiography reveals Chapman's internal conflicts, including the pressure and scrutiny he faced due to an interracial relationship during his college years.

This period marked the onset of severe panic attacks, foreshadowing the challenges that would follow in his professional life. After a routine surgery, Chapman's life took a darker turn as he developed an opioid addiction, consuming up to 50 painkillers daily.

This dependency spiraled into a costly gambling addiction, ultimately squandering nearly all of his $40 million career earnings. Chapman's candid reflection on his pride and reluctance to seek help underscores a common plight among professional athletes.

Chapman's Road to Recovery

His descent reached a nadir in 2014, living out of his El Camino and facing arrest for shoplifting. It was at this point that Chapman embarked on a hard-fought journey towards recovery, undergoing rehab three times before finally achieving sobriety.

He attributes his turnaround to the unwavering support of family and friends, who remained steadfast despite his struggles. Now, as a reformed figure, Chapman dedicates his life to advocacy, supporting others battling drug addiction.

His story is a testament to the complexities and beauty of life, a narrative he eloquently shares with his audience. The book is a heartfelt dedication to his four children and those enduring similar struggles, offering insights into his triumphs, tribulations, and the path forward.

Chapman's transformation is not just about overcoming addiction; it's about rediscovering the joy of fatherhood and building a new legacy. He relishes his role as a father to his son and three daughters, cherishing the opportunity to connect with them as young adults.

His journey, marked by both despair and redemption, serves as a powerful reminder of the fragility of success and the enduring strength of the human spirit.