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'It was my fault': Former Badgers football star Montee Ball overcomes alcoholism, depression

Posted at 2:42 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 16:17:20-04

A former Wisconsin Badgers star running back is opening up about his demons.

“I still always have those what-ifs. Oh, yeah. I'll have that forever,” Montee Ball says.

Those what-ifs are from one of the best running backs in Badgers football history. Ball is now back in Wisconsin, talking to the community.

Ball said he enjoys coming back to the Badger State. “I really miss it," he says.

Ball's life began to spiral out of control in Madison during his sophomore year.

“I was partying, trying to be a poster child for a program,” Ball said.

The former Badgers star said he received warnings from his family about where that path could lead.

“My father is a recovering alcoholic. My grandfather passed from alcoholism. Every single aunt and uncle that I have are alcoholics,” Ball said.

Ball continued drinking even after being drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2013.

“I moved to Denver, I was 22. You give me money, and I was an alcoholic, what do you expect? It’s a recipe for a disaster,” Ball said.

By 2016, he was out of the NFL and facing two domestic violence charges.

“I was blaming alcohol, depression, her...I was in control. No one made me do it,” Ball said.

And then rock bottom.

“I played in Super Bowl 48. ... I was in jail in Madison for Super Bowl 50. I ended up watching my childhood team from jail,” Ball said.

Ball said he has been sober for nearly three years and knows the only person to blame is himself.

“Domestic violence, you are always responsible for your actions. I'm going to say it wasn't the alcohol. It was my fault, I needed to step up and be a man,” Ball said.

Part of his recovery involved attending a domestic abuse survivors luncheon.

“I was partying, trying to be a poster child for a program." — former Wisconsin star Montee Ball

“I wasn't nervous to play in the Super Bowl ... but I was sweating. A domestic abuse luncheon with my name tag, I had to face the music,” Ball said.

He’s now 28, with a son of his own.

What message is Ball trying to get across?

"My goal is to teach the importance of reaching out for help, to show vulnerability,” Ball said.