CultureAug 04, 2016 by Will Maule
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time who won 22 medals, 18 of them gold, in swimming in four Olympic games. But even such a high level of success could not prevent the despondency he faced in September 2014 - he even thought about ending his own life, ESPN reports. "I was a train wreck," Phelps told ESPN. "I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times where I didn't want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost."
Photos began to emerge of him smoking drugs, and he was arrested twice for drunk driving. Following the most recent encounter with the cops, he spent days wallowing in his bedroom, contemplating committing suicide. But then God intervened, via his Christian friend, NFL star Ray Lewis. Lewis called up his buddy and told him, "This is when we fight. This is when
Lewis convinced Phelps to seek help at the Meadows, a behavioural rehab facility outside Phoenix, and handed him a book, 'The Purpose Driven Life,' by Pastor Rick Warren. Phelps checked into rehab, started to flick through the pages, and called Lewis immediately. "Man this book is crazy!" he exclaimed. "The thing that's going on...oh my gosh...my brain, I can't thank you freaking enough, man. You saved my life." Phelps said the book "turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet."
Warren's book also convinced Phelps to reconcile with his estranged father, Fred, who divorced his wife when Phelps was just 9 years old. When the two men saw each other for the first time after so many years of separation, they embraced in a big hug.
After he left Meadows in November 2014, Phelps carried on with his training for the Rio Olympics. Three months later he asked his long-time girlfriend, Nicole Johnson, to marry him. Last May 5, Johnson gave birth to Boomer Robert, their firstborn. God truly transformed this man's life, and everything was transformed into colour when he began looking to Him.
Phelps is due to appear at Rio 2016, which will be his fifth and last Olympics.
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