Published On: Sun, Jan 14th, 2018

Big Read: Inside Kevin Stevens’s 25-year fight with addiction

After two disappointing seasons, the Kings dealt Stevens to the New York Rangers in 1997. He was 32 years old, losing his usefulness even as a role player, and still feeding the monster inside him. The Rangers intervened, and Stevens spent part of the summer of 1998 at a Los Angeles-area rehabilitation facility, where he reportedly received regular visits from teammate Wayne Gretzky. “I think the reason people were so drawn to Kevin is he would give the shirt off his back to anybody who needed anything,” Gretzky told Sports Illustrated in 2000. “A ride. Somebody to talk to. Kevin was always there. He was comfortable hanging with the captain or the young guys on a team. He was one of those guys nobody disliked.”

The following summer, Stevens found himself in rehab again. At a facility in Duxbury, Mass., he told Dr. Diana Ikeda, a psychologist who worked with NHL’s substance abuse program, that he’d had a problem with Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycodone since team doctors prescribed him the drug in the mid-1990s.

When the Collinsville PD entered Stevens’s motel room on the morning of Jan. 22, 2000, they were immediately intimidated by the size of the man. There were three officers on the scene. Still, if there was struggle, Stevens would be difficult to restrain. He was asked to sit on the bed. He did. “I’ll never hurt you,” he told them, apparently sensing their unease. “I’m not like that.”

At the station, Stevens told officers he’d been smoking crack on and off for the past eight years. “When you came in last night, I felt numb,” he said in his written statement to the police. “I’ve had problems with substance abuse in the past. I’ve already been through treatment. If the team finds out, I’ll lose my job … Although I’m nervous, I’m thinking clearly now.”

Stevens was charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and held in jail for three days. Meanwhile, reports of his arrest made public a secret he’d been trying to keep for nearly a decade. He knew the life he’d enjoyed was over. Back home, his pregnant wife and two young children would learn the news like everyone else. He felt ashamed for putting himself in the position he had — and for not recognizing the toll it would take on his friends and family. This has to be rock bottom, he thought. He vowed to himself to get the help he needed, and to follow through this time.

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Big Read: Inside Kevin Stevens’s 25-year fight with addiction