Earlier this week, Austin Recovery, the largest non-profit drug and alcohol treatment center in Texas, hosted its second annual Speaker Series fundraiser luncheon at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater. The event featured famed University of Texas Longhorn Running Back and Hall of Fame Houston Oiler Earl Campbell as the keynote speaker. The goal of the series, in which a nationally acclaimed artist, entertainer, or speaker shares his or her story of recovery, is to break the silence and stigma placed on addiction while raising essential funds in support of Austin Recovery.
Earl Campbell, a Texas native, overcame a youth of poverty to win a Heisman Trophy and would go on to join the Houston Oilers as first all-around pick in the 1978 draft. Years of playing football took a toll on Campbell’s body, and after multiple surgeries he found relief through prescription painkillers, which eventually took over his life. At the luncheon, alongside his sons Tyler and Christian Campbell, Earl shared his personal and family story of a journey from fame to addiction, then to recovery and healing. For a time, alcohol and drugs did what Earl's football opponents could not, and brought down this formerly indestructible force of nature fondly known as the Tyler Rose.
“I was so embarrassed because I'm Earl Campbell. But it can happen to Earl Campbell, too. I got with the program… I needed some help. I couldn’t do it by myself,” said the retired running back of his addiction and recovery during his speech. “I thought I was existing all those years as Earl Campbell. But the last three years have been the best. It's made all our lives better.”
The luncheon’s proceeds, which totaled more than $300,000 in ticket sales and donations, will support Austin Recovery and allow the treatment center to continue achieving its mission.