Home / Sports / What was it like to meet Roy Halladay the night he was perfect? An opponent’s perspective

What was it like to meet Roy Halladay the night he was perfect? An opponent’s perspective

There was so much to note in Friday’s powerful hour-long E60 documentary about Roy Halladay’s life and death. Heartbreaking memories of his widow Brandy, worrying details about his addiction to prescription opioids and the hopeful lesson that can come from such a painful tragedy.

“I just wanted him to slow down,” Brandy said.

“Roy had none,” she said of the balance of his life on points.

“He didn’t feel he had the luxury of being mistaken, he was really tormented.”

How Halladay’s opioid addiction began

Halladay turned his back on the 2011 season and went through it. He let through the pain the night the Phillies playoffs jumped in a gut-shifting 1

-0 loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS after a franchise-record 102 regular season wins.

Brandy told a story about Roy experiencing such back pain that he once fell down and sneezed around that time.

Halladay began taking prescription opioids in the spring of 2012 and got them by paying cash to a doctor in Florida who was recommended to him by a Phillies teammate.

“He continued to hurt himself, and the more he injured himself, the more dependent he would be on medication,” Brandy said. “He broke his back. He actually shrunk three inches from compression in his spine. That’s crazy.”

Former teammate and student Kyle Kendrick, who looked up to Halladay as a role model and mentor, noticed that something was not right.

“At his locker, I was lying next to him. You would try to talk to him and you would feel he was not there,” Kendrick said. “As a friend, I felt I would say something. I felt he might need help. A teammate and I said something to someone who worked for the team.”

The teammate confronted Halladay about his drug use during the 2013 season, but nothing changed.

Fear of public scrutiny

Halladay’s body became addicted to the drugs to work. At the same time, he handled private fears for others to find out. He was tormented by the potential public scrutiny.

“Everyone should be able to ask for help and they shouldn’t be looked at and judged for it,” Brandy said several times throughout the documentary. If there is a lesson to be learned from this tragedy, it is.

Roy Halladay went to rehab for his painkiller addiction during the 2013 season, his final year in the majors. Many Phillies fans will remember the stress-filled, sweaty 13 starts that Halladay made last year. Sometimes it was a reaction to the medicine in his system.

He left rehab early, Brandy said, because he had been recognized and someone had snuck a phone into the facility. Roy was nervous about the word about his stint in rehab that leaked.

The struggle to find a purpose

After retirement, the years before Halladay returned some of his joy and passion by training his sons baseball team, Roy “stopped taking care of himself, inside and out,” according to Brandy. His weight rose to over 300 pounds at one point in retirement, then down to 205 at another.

He resumed rehab in January 2015 for pain relief and was there for three months. When he returned home he began to meet a psychiatrist and was formally diagnosed with ADD, depression and anxiety.

At retirement, Halladay struggled to find a purpose.

“He was lost, he didn’t know what to do with himself,” Brandy said. “Flying was therapeutic.”

Doc’s time in the air

The circumstances of Halladay’s death were documented in a toxicology report 2018 and in a report by the National Transportation Safety Board last month. He had Zolpidem, amphetamines and morphine in his system when he crashed his Icon A5 plane in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the NTSB report, Halladay did extreme acrobatics when he lost control.

Halladay got his pilot license in 2013. He had spent a lot of time in the air with his father, Roy II, a pilot, from a young age, and had accumulated more than 700 flying hours himself before the crash.

“He was an excellent pilot,” Roy II said of his son. “Mechanically, his skills were very good. He continued to work for further grades.”

Still, Brandy didn’t feel it was completely safe.

“He tried to fill this void by buying boats and airplanes and cars and shoes,” she said. “Roy was an adrenaline guy, he was always looking for it in a hurry.”

When Roy got his Icon A5, a plane that made him feel like he was flying a fighter jet“He was so excited he couldn’t control himself,” Brandy said.

“My concern was after he got (Icon A5), he kept talking about how sporty it was, how much of a sports car it was,” his father said. “I said be careful about it.”


Halladay died 35 days after receiving the A5 icon. According to the NTSB report, he often flew at low altitude in shallow water and flew under a bridge in Tampa with Brandy aboard 12 days before the fatal crash.

On the day of the crash, he and Brandy would see one of their son’s bands perform at a school concert. Roy told Brandy he would return the A5 icon to the airport and meet her there. He texted her as she drove, “I’m so sorry, I should have gone with you, another wasted day.” Instead of flying north to the airport, he had flown west to the Gulf of Mexico where the crash occurred.

“I had so much more in the future I wanted for us and it was hard to know it was just done,” said Brandy Halladay.

“I know in my heart it was an accident. I want to make people understand that he was just a man. Perfect, I hate that word, perfect. I just want him to be Roy. I hope somebody hears ours story and say, ‘Wow, I will ask for help.’ “

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