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As his CNN+ show debuts, Rex Chapman fears his own success

Love and success seemed to lead to pain.

This feeling has intensified in the NBA. After a few injuries and surgeries, he eventually became addicted to opioids, exacerbating his longtime gambling addiction. Retirement from basketball led to a deeper addiction. Chapman burned some cash. In his forties, he would slump on couches and shoplift goods to make money. His wife, Bridget, divorced in 2012.

At the height of his addiction, Chapman consumed about 10 OxyContin tablets and 40 Vicodin tablets a day, chewing them to get them into his bloodstream faster.

“At some point, I had just come to terms with the fact that my life was going to be that of a drug addict,” he said, adding an expletive for emphasis.

In September 2014, he was caught shoplifting over $14,000 in electronics and was arrested. His sister, Jenny, took him in and, with the help of friends, persuaded Chapman to go to a rehabilitation center in Louisville, Kentucky, where his college roommate, Paul Andrews, was an executive. “He saved my life,” Chapman said.

After Chapman came clean, he began speaking publicly about recovering from addiction. He found work covering Kentucky athletics on radio for a regional media company around 2016. The company pressured him to be more active on social media, particularly Twitter, but Chapman resisted. “The landscape was just toxic. Everyone hates each other,” he said.

A Dolphin Video Changed Everything: “I once saw a video of a pod of dolphins swimming out to sea, and a guy on a paddle board coming in, and a dolphin jumped up and kicked him in the chest and knocked him down. And I was like, ‘That’s an accusation,’ Chapman said, adding another expletive. (The account that first shared the video is now suspended.)

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