Monday, July 7, 2014

Review of Memoir HIGH TIDE


Bill Searcy has thrown it all away. Almost. His memoir– HIGH TIDE: A Story of Football, Freefall, and Forgiveness– tells of Searcey’s going from being a fractious fatty in middle school to an all-American high school football star of prodigious size and strength and a first-string player on Coach Bear Bryant’s national championship University of Alabama [Crimson Tide] gridiron teams. He missed starting some games because of troubles he caused due to late-night partying, booze, babes, and cocaine. These four horsemen of his own apocalypse bedeviled him for decades, costing him a pro ball career and his marriage, leaving him sleeping in his car and desperately trying to score drugs to get high and to suppress pain and depression…the period of freefall.

Four decades after his college days, “for the first time in what seems like an eternity, I have my own place, a basement apartment in Birmingham. At this writing, I drive a truck and sweep parking lots for $85 a night.”

What saved him from death on the streets were the efforts of religious social workers, who took him in, helped him understand and overcome his obsession with drugs, and gave him an outlet to channel what he learned from his experience into helping others overcome their addictions. What brought him from being a four-hundred-plus-pound giant to a man who could shop for normal-size clothes was a six-month reality-TV endeavor at Hilton Head, NC, where his days, and especially his meals, were scripted and supervised.

The book is well-written, with the help of Kelly Wittmann. The people are interesting, the descriptions evocative, Searcey’s story touching, even as he makes it clear he did it to himself. To those given much, much is expected. He was given intelligence, athletic ability, and the willingness/determination to endure the incredible training regimens required of world-class athletes. His hard work was almost undone by his addictions. He credits God and those who led him to God for a life now worth living.

Searcey’s dedication is revealing: “For my son Woody– the best son a dad could hope for. Though I love you more than words could ever say, I at least hope this book will keep you headed in the right direction and off the path I was once taking.”

Others tempted to pursue “better living through chemistry” by getting high should heed the lessons of this memoir.

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