“I was in a really dark place…not wanting to be alive anymore…I look back now…I lived in a bubble for a long time,” he said in an interview.
Ray Lewis, a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and close friend, gave Phelps a harsh reality check that eventually made him enter the treatment facility. He has been clean ever since.
“I haven’t had a single sip and will not have a sip…My body fat has dropped significantly, and I’m leaner than I’ve ever been,” he explains.
Retirement! Or is it?
After the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where he took home four gold medals and two silver ones, Phelps had announced his retirement. That later changed when he said he would compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, along with understanding that something had to change in the way he perceived professional swimming.
“After ’08, mentally, I was over. I didn’t want to do it anymore. But I also knew I couldn’t stop. So I forced myself to do something that I really didn’t want to do, which was to continue swimming,” he confessed. “That whole four-year period, I would miss at least two workouts a week. Why? Didn’t want to go. Didn’t feel like going. Screw it. I’m going to sleep in. I’m going to skip Friday and go for a long weekend.”
Relapse & Recovery
In 2009 a photograph of Phelps using a water pipe, a device meant for smoking, got published. Phelps has admitted that the photo was authentic and apologized to the public.
Ahead of the 2016 Olympics, Phelps assured his fans he’ll be better than ever. “I’m back to being the little kid who once said anything is possible,” he said. “The performances were there because I worked, recovered, slept and took care of myself more than I ever had. You’re going to see a different me than you saw in any of the other Olympics.” Rio will be Phelps’ fifth Olympics.