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The question was simple and direct.
Brandy Halladay let the question swirl around her head, her lips moved, but no words came out, and after pausing for three, four, five seconds she finally answered.
“Yes,” she wiped.
She was asked if she thought her estranged husband, Hall of Fame pitcher Roy “Doc” Halladay, was an addict. This is the complicated legacy of Halladay.
The Halladay family would be at Citizens Bank Park on Friday in Philadelphia, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his perfect game against the Miami Marlins. Instead, ESPN’s E: 60 will air a powerful and absorbing documentary called “Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story” at 7 a.m. ET, led by director John Barr, revealing Halladay’s demons that few knew, and his life ended in an air crash with his body filled with drugs.
“Everyone saw him as this very strong, dominant person,” Brandy Halladay told Barr and ESPN, “but he was terrified. He didn’t feel like he had the luxury of making a mistake.
“He was tormented. He really was. He was a tormented man. ”
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Halladay was killed the morning of November 7, 2017, when his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, had opioids, amphetamines, antidepressants and anxiety drugs in his body. He had twice been to drug rehab centers. Once, for three weeks in 2013, when he was thinking of the Phillies. Another time, for three months in 2015, after retirement.
The Philadelphia Phillies started pitcher Roy Halladay 2013. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA Today Sports)
There were signs all the time of his addiction, say his teammates and Phillies employees. He did not appear himself in a few days. He was there physically, but his mind wandered. His eyes were open. He tried to tell friends that he was okay, just had marital problems and underwent counseling, but he couldn’t hide his addiction to those close to him.
“Nothing was right with him,” said Kyle Kendrick, his former teammate and close friend of the Phillies. “Just as he acted, you just saw that something was wrong. I tried to talk to him and felt that he was not there.
“It was just awful to see.”
Phillie’s relief program sought to help Halladay in her struggle with addiction, depression and anxiety. So did his wife. His closest friends. His parents and sisters.
When Halladay retired in 2013, everyone wanted to think he would get better. He would no longer need painkillers to continue through his severe back and shoulder pain, the sleeping pills to help him rest the night before each start, and the drug for anxiety, which still did not stop him from vomiting every time he took the pile.
“Those pills didn’t fix the problem,” says Brandy Halladay, “they masked the symptoms for him to do his job.”
The addiction severely strained their marriage, and as Halladay battled the final season of 2013, with 4-5 with a 6.82 ERA, being just one-third of a in the final start against the Marlins, Brandy asked him to retire.
“Brandy had enough,” Barr said. “The way she presented it to him was, ‘If you don’t leave baseball, we’re ready.'”
Halladay, 36, retired December 9, 2013 at a tearful news conference at the baseball winter meetings, saying his body was shot and it was time to be with his family. Thirteen months later, he was back in a West Palm Beach drug rehab center and spent three months before returning with his family.
“He didn’t know how to evaluate himself without baseball,” Brandy Halladay said. “He didn’t know who he was. If baseball was his identity, then what was he? He stopped taking care of himself, inside and out. He was just lost. ”
Halladay’s weight ranged from £ 300 to £ 205 after retirement. He met a psychiatrist. He underwent marriage counseling. His only escape was flight. He bought two single-engine aircraft and later an amphibious two-seat aircraft, Icon A5.
Heaven was his salvation. He felt free. He felt at peace.
He took out his new aircraft the morning of November 7. He would go to school with Brandy and his youngest son, Ryan, for a band reason. He told her he would take the plane from their lakefront home in Odessa, Florida, about 25 miles north to the local Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. Instead, he turned west toward the Gulf of Mexico.
When Halladay left the house, Brandy said he seemed a little sad, quiet and scattered. But reduced? Brandy didn’t see it.
Halladay took off in his aircraft, hovered over the Gulf of Mexico and began to make daring maneuvers, fly as high as 500 feet, then swung barely above the water and did it again and again.
Once, too many.
He was in the air for just 17 minutes when the plane hit the water. The aircraft was disintegrated. Halladay was killed on impact, his body found in four feet of water. Halladay’s autopsy report revealed high concentrations of morphine and amphetamine in the body, along with an antidepressant, a sleeping aid and traces of alcohol.
Halladay’s father, Roy Halladay Jr., a commercial pilot, told me Sports Illustrated Last summer he didn’t know if his son’s accident was a suicide, but Brandy Halladay strongly denied that there was any intention.
“She said there was no way to commit suicide,” Barr said, “he wasn’t in the dark of a place. She wants to put that story to rest. If the plane slowed down and he tried to pull his nose off the dive, does not support that evidence that theory.
“The reality is we don’t know why he crashed. We know he fled carelessly. We know it wasn’t mechanically wrong. But it is believed that he was reduced on the last flight. ”
Braden, their oldest son who is a minor-league pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization, who sat on their boat deck with his mother crying for hours in the afternoon after his father’s death, thinks it is pointless to even wonder.
“For me, it just doesn’t matter,” Braden said. “I don’t think I need to get stuck on why it happened. Or how it happened. To be honest, there is no benefit of knowing.
“The only thing it can do is hurt if it’s something I don’t want to hear.”
The hope is that Halladay struggles with addiction, first with alcohol and then drugs, will lead others for help. May is Mental Health Month.
It should not be a shame to ask for help.
“I hope somebody hears our story …,” says Brandy Halladay. “Everyone should be able to ask for help and not be judged or downed for it.
“If a person asks for help he was afraid of before, then we did a good thing.”
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale