Recently, Woods was at his old high school, Ashville High, to share his story with students.
“It took me a long time to find out there was a better way than drugs,” Woods told the students and faculty members.
Woods graduated from Ashville High School in 1984 and had the chance to go to the college of his choice because he was such a great athlete.
“Although I was a good athlete, I had a problem,” he said. “All I ever thought about was getting high. I did get high, and I was good at it.”
Woods said people gave him things because he was such a good athlete. He said his problem started when he was 17 years old.
“I started smoking marijuana,” he said. “It escalated to crack cocaine. It was like being a kid with candy. I fell in love with it. People will try to give you something for free, but it won’t be free. Drugs cost me 26 years of my life between the ages of 17 to 43.”
Woods said if he had gone on to college, he probably could be retired from the NFL right now.
“But instead of doing that, I was walking up and down 10th Street in Ashville every day, looking and wondering how I was going to get my next high.”
The day Woods spoke to the AHS student body, there were four men he introduced to them.
“Today, I have some folks here who mean so much to me,” Woods said. “Two of my best friends, Fred Blount and Gary Woods. And two of my high school coaches, Raymond Farmer and Larry Touart. It took me 26 years to pick up the telephone and talk to either four of these guys. I’m ashamed about what I did, and how I wasted all those years. I am here today to tell all of you it is a no-way-out situation. I got lucky because God brought me back because I was facing 15 years in prison. I got down on my knees and prayed to God. When I stood up from that prayer, I knew in my heart I was not going to prison. Instead of being here today, talking to you, I should be in a white uniform doing time in state prison.”
Woods said during those 26 years, he lived a life full of lies and was able to hide his real life from friends, coaches, teammates and teachers very easily.
His message to the AHS students was before they go down the road of drugs, he wanted them to understand there is a better life.
“I lost everything when I lived that life,” Woods said. “I lost my family, my friends. If my message today can help one student to stay away from drugs, then my visit has been successful and it has made my day. To me, it’s my job and God gave me this job.”
Today, Woods travels the entire state speaking at churches, schools and anywhere else they will let him speak concerning the importance of staying away from drugs.”
Farmer is a member of Siberton Baptist Church in Attalla, and had Woods come speak to his Sunday School class recently.
“He was one of the greatest athletes I have ever coached,” Farmer said. “It is good to see how well he is doing now that he has changed his life around. He calls me at least twice a week to let me know how he is doing. I’m very proud of him.”
AHS principal Patti Johnson was a classmate of Woods. She was pleased to give him the opportunity to come and speak to today’s students at Ashville High.
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.