A number of Alexandria youths, recovering addicts and community members got to hear a humbling story of drug addiction first-hand Monday night when D.C. United midfielder Santino Quaranta opened up to the audience at T.C. Williams High School.
During an interview in the school auditorium with NBC News 4 reporter and Alexandria native Julie Carey, he recounted his tale of addiction and later took questions from the audience for close to half an hour.
I wasnt a good person, I was very selfish, Quaranta said of himself before seeking treatment. I could always justify things in my head my use of drugs, being late for practice, not doing the right things it just didnt work out and got worse and worse.
Marked with a tattoo on his right arm, Quaranta remembered the day October 23, 2007 when he resolved to change his addictive lifestyle.
It was an upsetting day, said Quaranta of the day that his dealer refused to sell to him and he finally turned for help. It was a day when you kind of have this moment of clarity that youve come to the end.
You cant get your drugs anymore, youre without a home, youve lost your wife, your car and youre still trying to get this substance.
Since coming to terms with his addiction, the once-prodigal midfielder has managed to resurrect his career with United, the team that drafted him as a teen in 2001.
Quaranta, a Major League Soccer player since age 16 who has appeared 15 times for the U.S. National Team, made the trip to Alexandria as part of the citys efforts during National Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Month.
In the end, between alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine its all the same, Quaranta said. It took me away from being me. No matter what it was, I took it to extremes.
Marcus, 12, an Alexandria middle school student attending the event, said Quarantas story changed how he thought about pro athletes. It also surprised and scared Marcus to learn that Quaranta had also done gateway drugs, smoked marijuana and cigarettes.