LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -- Richard Dumas still has the monster dunk nicknamed the "Doom Boom" back when he was an NBA star with the Phoenix Suns in the early 1990's
But now he brings it out for the kids on his Warriors youth basketball team that he runs through his Dumas and Friends Athletic Association in the West Valley.
He still loves the game.
"For me basketball was like an escape. On the court I feel free like nothing can bother me," said Dumas.
After helping the Suns get to the finals in 1993 Dumas's career was ruined by his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
His life hit a new low late last year when he was arrested for allegedly shoplifting $800 worth of merchandise at the Army and Air Force Exchange at Luke Air Force Base while working a janitorial job in September and October 2012.
In an exclusive interview he talked about his struggles with addiction and what it is like to battle the disease in the public eye.
"I'm a good person. I made a mistake but I'm not going to let that keep me down," said Dumas.
He said he has made mistakes but has learned from them and is moving forward with his life.
He knows now when he wants a drink to turn to his support system and connect with positive people.
His athletic association and the kids he coaches are now his passion.
His association teaches the kids basketball, provides tutoring so they can keep their grades up and shows them the importance of giving back to the community.
Dumas hopes to teach the children, "To follow down my footsteps the positive side and plus learn from the negative things that I've done, not to dwell on it, not to let it beat them up. Understand what happened, move forward in life, learn from that lesson."
Once a month the kids and coaches volunteer at charities around the Valley like food banks and elderly care centers.
"Just got to keep the faith and keep moving on and do stuff that helps other people which in turn helps me," explained Dumas.
Dumas, who said he had his first sip of alcohol at age 5, said addiction is not an easy thing to deal with. "No it's not and I think a lot of people don't understand that. They just look at it as just a bad person...It's a disease. It's like cancer. Are you going to be mad at me because I have cancer?"
When asked what means more, Game 5 of the NBA Championship where he scored 25 points or the positive effect he is having on the kids, Dumas said definitely the kids because that effect will live on forever.
His next court date on the shoplifting charges is in February. He could end up serving prison time in the case.
STATEMENT RELEASED DECEMBER 21, 2013:
Right now we are working with our attorney to gather information in order to understand the alleged charges made against Richard Dumas. Our understanding at this time is that Richard was not involved as alleged. It appears that Richard was implicated based on his association with one or more people charged. Given all the work Richard has been doing through Dumas & Friends Athletics to assist kids here in the Valley and in partnership with Lifetime Membership, it does not make sense that Richard would be associated, as alleged, with eight thefts totaling less than $800. In fact, in December he personally gave over $1,500 to financially support various kids in his basketball programs, and his association recently completed a toy drive and more than $17,500 worth of toys from Toys R Us and Wal-Mart are being distributed this weekend to several Valley charities, including Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
We would ask those who report the news to exercise professional judgment and not throw Richard’s name in the mix simply for the sake of sensationalizing a story. We also ask all those reading and listening to the news to carefully distinguish how Richard’s name is being used in and amongst the stories of all those arrested for the simple purpose of sensationalizing the story.
At this time Richard has been advised by his attorney not to discuss the allegations. He is certain his name will be exonerated through the process.