Search

My Shot I deserve the punishment I have received for trying to drive drunk

Feb. 07, 2000
Feb. 07, 2000

Table of Contents
Feb. 7, 2000

Super Bowl XXXIV
Tennis
  • The world's top-ranked players, Andre Agassi and Martina Hingis, had a chance to escape the heels of their respective nemeses in Australia, but only one of them did

My Shot I deserve the punishment I have received for trying to drive drunk

By Notah Begay III

During my senior year in high school, I was an all-state athlete
in golf, basketball and soccer, and sometimes after an important
win one of my friends would get a keg of beer. We would go out
on the mesa and just hang. This was my introduction to alcohol.

This is an article from the Feb. 7, 2000 issue

My drinking became more frequent at Stanford. I pushed it too
far one night two weeks ago in my hometown of Albuquerque. I
went to Billy's Long Bar to catch up with some friends and had
one too many beers. Then I made the biggest mistake of my life:
I tried to drive home. Luckily I had only a minor accident in
the parking lot and no one was hurt, but my arrest for DWI left
me greatly embarrassed.

Besides letting down my fans, I have let down my fellow Native
Americans. I'm a high-profile professional athlete, and my
mistake only feeds the stereotype that haunts my people. The sad
fact is that alcoholism is a major problem that plagues many
Native Americans.

I pleaded guilty to aggravated drunken driving, and because I
had admitted to another DWI offense--in November 1995 in
Scottsdale, Ariz.--I was sentenced to 364 days in jail, with all
but seven days suspended. Obviously, I am not looking forward to
spending a week behind bars, but I am prepared to take the
punishment that the judge handed down.

Am I an alcoholic? I wouldn't call myself one, but to be honest,
I don't know. I could be. I am going to seek professional
counseling to find the answer, and I am considering giving up
alcohol entirely. This was something I had thought about even
before my arrest and sentencing, part of which mandated that I
not consume alcohol for one year.

As a rookie last year, I exceeded all of my expectations,
winning two tournaments. Now I'm looking for a new beginning.

Begay, 27, is scheduled to serve his sentence starting on Feb. 29.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK