Echoes from the Buttes Podcast: Jaxon Hood's Rise, Fall, and RecoveryPosted: Updated:
2012 was the start of a new age of Sun Devil football.
As the ashes of the Dennis Erickson era smoldered, new head coach Todd Graham and his staff went to work to lay the foundation for a better tomorrow in Tempe. Thankfully for Arizona State, they didn't have to look very far to find a pair of local players that appeared to be the long-term centerpieces.
In running back D.J Foster and defensive lineman Jaxon Hood, the Sun Devils added a pair of local high school standouts who became immediate contributors. After earning starting positions in fall camp, both Foster and Hood would excel during the season and earn Freshman All-American honors.
The future seemed bright for ASU's hometown heroes.
For Foster, it was. Over his career, he became a dynamic weapon for the ASU offense, and he is now a Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots.
As for Hood, his story turned tragic.
[Hear Jaxon tell his full story on the new Echoes from the Buttes podcast]
After sustaining an injury during his freshman season, he was prescribed painkillers by team doctors. That prescribed use quickly developed became an addiction.
"I was addicted from the first time," Hood said. "The pills gave me energy and made me feel up. I took them, and they made me feel like Superman."
His substance abuse continued to grow during his sophomore season. Hood's usage soon exceeded his prescription, forcing him to the street to seek more. He also claims that he began trading pills with some of his teammates.
Most dangerously, he began mixing prescriptions together.
"I started experimenting," Hood said. "It became a pregame cocktail, taking my Oxy and my Adderall mix."
Hood would overdose on pills during the team's roadtrip to Dallas to face Notre Dame, but he continued to hide his addiction from family, friends, and teammates. Those closest to him had no idea the danger in which Hood was putting himself.
"At any time, I could have lost my life," Hood said.
In the summer of 2014, Graham finally found out about Hood's substance abuse and got Hood into a rehab facility. He completed the 30-day program, and returned to the team.
He would play for the first half of that season, but the pressures of staying clean, and fighting the battle alone, took its toll.
"Midseason, I'm not in that great of shape, and I'm feeling beat up," Hood said. "So I'm looking for the medicine that made me feel better the last two seasons."
He reached for it, but it did not make him feel better. Instead, Hood's relapse pushed him to the brink.
"I felt at an all-time low," Hood admitted. "I felt suicidal."
He was at a crossroads: Give in to his addiction, or fight back.
"I realized that it was Game 7, and I had to do something to save my life."
On this episode of Echoes from the Buttes, Hood opens up about his painful, costly, and nearly fatal battle with addiction. He also shares his life-saving revelation, and how he now hopes his struggles can help others battling the demon of addiction.
"I had to accept defeat so I could win in the end," Hood said. "I want to be there to help others and to spread my story so there is not another Jaxon Hood."
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