Former USC and NFL running back LenDale White opened up in a profile in the Los Angeles Times published this week about how his body and mind suffered as a result of his football career.
White estimates that he had about 20 or 30 concussions (“But he can’t be sure,” Zach Helfand writes. “Only one was diagnosed, he says.”) and sometimes had to be guided into position by his quarterback after a big blow. The hits to the head and general pounding his body took left White with constant aches and pains. He turned to Vicodin.
“And I don't mean like popping a pain pill because I'm hurt,” White told the Times. “I mean popping scripts. Like 10 Vicodins at a time type [stuff]. You know what I mean? To feel it, like I'm high. To feel the numbness.”
Years later, after the end of his NFL career, White had suicidal thoughts when confronting life after football.
“I don't wanna be that guy to drive to a … stadium and blow my brains out,” he told the Times. “I don't want to be that guy. But bro, sometimes, there's, again, that frustration of football and the fact that people are able to hold that over you.”
White leaned on his former USC teammates to get through the tough times. Many of them were having similar struggles with discerning their post-football purpose in life and formed a 30-man group chat that functioned as a sort of support group.
“If it wasn't for some of that group chat talk some of the days, I don't know how I would get through it,” White said.
Living in his hometown of Denver, where marijuana is legal, White also used cannabis to quit abusing pain pills. He’s feeling better now, mentally and physically, and the famously chunky power back is also looking more svelte these days.