Right from the first time, that very first time heroin entered Todd Marinovich’s body, it took him to a place he had been seeking most of his life.
A place as far away as possible from the reality of being Todd Marinovich, the boy raised to become the NFL’s greatest quarterback.
“Complete,” Marinovich starts, sucking in a deep breath and exhaling loudly, “I don’t want to say numbness, because there’s a feeling of euphoria, so you’re not numb, but you’re numb to the negative feeling for sure.
“It’s just a warmth, and almost puts you in a place where you believe that’s your natural state,” he continued. “And the thing is, then you’re chasing that natural state that you think that you want to be at, and then it’s just a complete cycle that you get in that’s just vicious.”
For those under age 25 it’s now beyond memory, but there was a time when Marinovich was football’s Next Big Thing, with hype attached to him that would rival an Andrew Luck or Cam Newton.
From birth, he had been groomed by his father, Marv Marinovich, to be a star athlete. He was fed a strict diet that forbade him from having candy or any other sweet foods and drinks in order to stay pure, to keep his body in perfect condition. He grew up, under his father’s tutelage, training alongside pro athletes. It was like he was already one of them.
But the pressure of living up to those expectations may have become too much for Marinovich, a genuinely talented QB. Drugs soon entered the mix, and he started his escape from himself. First he tried marijuana, then mushrooms, then on to cocaine and ecstasy, and then heroin. Lots of heroin.
“I probably lost a decade,” said Marinovich, who played for Southern California in college and the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders. “Yeah. Where I don’t even recall much of it. It’s just a blur. In and out of jail. Bad.”
From “Robo QB” as a kid to “Marijuana-vich” as a college student to plain old junkie as an adult.
Now, it’s time for the clean Marinovich, the professional artist, surfer dude and family man.
The man he wants to be. Not the man his father wanted him to be.
“I get a definite new chapter,” the 42-year-old Marinovich said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Newport Beach, Calif., where he now makes a living through his artwork — which is on view at www.toddmarinovich.com. “Because I get to be a dad and pursue something that I’ve always been passionate about, and that’s art.
“But I am more than grateful that I am just still breathing.”