Gary McLain's story as told to Jeffrey Marx (The Downfall of a Champion, March 16) is the best and most meaningful article I have read in SI in 20 years. It reflects what is happening in schools and universities all over this country and in the rest of the world, and not just among athletes. It also points out how important it is for responsible people, especially those in authority, to begin to recognize and do something about drug addiction. We need to be better educated to the signs. It is so easy to believe someone is not hooked because that is what we want to hear. McLain, a pampered and spoiled athlete, got away with it. Shame on Villanova coach Rollie Massimino and others for not being more assertive.
ROBERT A. FISCHER Jr.
I am a former sports editor of the Villanova school newspaper (class of '84), and it does not surprise me that Gary McLain used cocaine during his college career. During the time I spent talking to, traveling with and writing about the Wildcats, McLain always struck me as an arrogant athlete who fed off the adulation of his peers. His belief that he could use drugs and elude addiction is characteristic of this impudent star.
What does surprise me is that he had the courage to reveal the horrible details of his cocaine addiction. I hope others can learn from McLain's mistakes without experiencing them firsthand.
While some may think Gary did a disservice to his former teammates and the university by publicizing his plight, I disagree. Exposing himself to public ridicule to help others is a Christian act indeed. I'm sure Villanovans everywhere are pulling for Gary to succeed on his road to recovery. It'll make us even prouder than that last road he conquered—the one to Lexington and the 1985 NCAA championship.
March 30, 1987
Having had drugs wreck my life, and also having rehabilitated myself, I cannot help but admire McLain's courage in telling his story of pain in a national magazine. What Gary has done has taken more guts than people who are fortunate enough never to have been there can possibly imagine.
I wish Gary all the best, and I am secure in the knowledge that he would wish the same for me.
PETER P. KETTELL
North Kingstown, R.I.
I am 14 years old, and teachers and other adults are constantly warning me about the dangers of drugs. None of their lectures, however, has had as strong an impact as Gary McLain's story. It's scary how McLain failed to realize he was addicted to coke, while others apparently chose to overlook the problem.
Oceanside, N. Y.
The article showed that cocaine is powerfully addictive and can get just about anyone—even a champion like McLain. I respected Gary before, and I respect him even more now.
McLain indicates that he wanted to inform others about the perils of drug use. I applaud him for that. However, the one fact that seems to have been shoved aside is the positive influence Rollie Massimino has had on the other kids who have passed through his program. He emphasizes graduation, teamwork and life outside basketball. I know. I played basketball at Villanova under Coach Mass from 1981 to 1984.
MICHAEL D. ENRIGHT
I cannot help but feel that McLain's posture in telling his story is the same self-serving one that led him to his present situation. One might counter that his story serves as a message to those who are on the verge, or in the midst, of a similar life-style. Nonetheless, as a Villanova graduate, I believe that a great university and its academic and athletic traditions have been violated by him.
THOMAS N. DELOZIER
Reading yet another story about a public figure, athlete or not, who was on drugs and entered a rehabilitation center does nothing but give kids the idea that they can get hooked, enter a rehab clinic and then get on with their lives, possibly getting famous in the process. Instilling a drug-free attitude in this country will require more examples by athletes who never needed drugs to begin with. Unfortunately, the hardest lessons we learn are from the Len Biases.
Billy Goodwin of St. John's was listed in Gary McLain's story as a member of a Big East all-star team that traveled to Angola in 1982. In fact, Goodwin was listed on the team's roster but did not make the trip to Angola.
The name of the author of Last Chance for the Condor (March 23) was misspelled. It is John Nielsen.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.