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KMIR Sports Sits Down With Former NFL Quarterback Todd Marinovich: Part 1

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Todd Marinovich is one of the biggest names in sports history, just not for the reasons you'd think. His dad put a football in his crib and set him on a rigorous path to becoming an NFL quarterback.

After remarkable high school and college careers, in 1991, the LA Raiders drafted him in the first round.

But his NFL career lasted only 3 years. Decades of addiction and tragedy followed. Now living in the desert, teaming up with a local non-profit to help young athletes. Here's part one or my 2-part sit down with Marinovich.

"I was such a young man at the time, I wasn't," Marinovich says thoughtfully. "I didn't have the tools to deal with the expectations, the pressure, that go along with being a professional athlete in a big city like Los Angeles... So I didn't handle it too well... As my record shows..."

By his 4th birthday, Marinovich ran 4 miles in 32 minutes, along the beach shoreline with his father ever step of the way.

Marv Marinovich, his dad, one of the NFL's first-ever strength and conditioning coaches trained his only son as a professional athlete from infancy. 
The idea: Sculpt an NFL quarterback with rigorous training, precise dieting and relentless discipline. 
It worked. Todd was selected 24th overall by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1991 NFL Draft. 
But internally, the young man was crumbling.  

 "It's really a gift that I'm still here and I'm still breathing," says Marinovich. "Cuz in a way, I did everything in my power not to be here. Addiction is a slow suicide." 

After a record setting high school career and during his time in college, as a highly anticipated USC Trojan, and further into his professional career and beyond, Marinovich struggled with addiction. 
First it was cocaine, then marijuana, heroin and more. For some 2 decades he was in and out of jail or rehab.
Yet, when on the football field, his talent was undeniable, however tragically displayed.  
After a failed return to the NFL, Marinovich landed in the Arena Football League, where he threw a record 10 touchdowns in one game despite suffering from "acute heroin withdraw". 

"But what I do know is that life is about the experience and when I share with youngsters, I get to convey that the best guys I played with were the best guys off the field," Marinovich says, speaking of NFL Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott, Howie Long and Marcus Allen. "They reached out to me, but I was a 21 year old kid that knew it all...  And it's hard ... It's hard to reach any young man with a big ego." 

And now Marinovich is dedicated to helping the SoCal Coyotes, having signed with the team as their quarterbacks coach. The local AAA Minor League developmental football team has not only delivered lopsided victories to fans for 10 seasons, but sends players and coaches to the local middle schools and elementary schools to teach leadership and life skills. Marinovich sees this opportunity as a make new strong connections to this community.

"I got to live a lot in the short amount of time I've been on planet and what I'm trying to do," Marinovich pauses, "to be honest Julie, I've been a taker my whole life and now I get to give back."
Part 2 will air Wednesday night, we'll look at Marinovich's vision to helping local youth and how art shaped his healing. 

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