Erik Ainge reveals addictions, mental illness

Erik Ainge, the former University of Tennessee quarterback with the famous name, was a New York Jets fifth-round draft choice.

Ainge also was a drug addict with bipolar disorder.

He granted an exclusive interview to ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini, who in turn allows Ainge to tell the harrowing story himself with a first-person narrative.

Ainge recalls what he can about his battle with heroin, cocaine and alcohol, saying at his worst he "would've made Charlie Sheen look like Miss Daisy." Ainge started with marijuana at 12 and was in deep by his senior season at Tennessee.

My drug problem went from bad to worse [with the Jets]. My rookie year, I failed a drug test for taking Adderall and got suspended four games. Adderall is like Ritalin, an amphetamine. I started taking Adderall back in high school, just to stay awake -- a lot of kids take it.

But most of my rookie year, it was painkillers -- and lots of them. I was taking 25 Percocets at a time. Five hours later, I'd do it again. Another eight hours, and I'd do it again. A drug dealer, a guy I knew, had them. There were other social, party drugs I would do, but I was addicted to painkillers.

He was using heroin heavily while with the Jets (he's technically still remains Jets property on the reserve list). He eventually went to rehab and finally was prescribed medication for a bipolar disorder. He claimed to be sober since last July with the help of his uncle, former NBA star Danny Ainge.

Rather than give away all the details here, take a few minutes to read the piece. It's an eye-opener.