“Heroin Is Not An Addiction, It’s A Disease”| Ric Flair Joins ‘The Pivot Podcast’ As 10-Year Anniversary Of Son’s Overdose Looms

(Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)

Last week’s “The Pivot Podcast” produced one of the best interviews with wrestling legend Ric Flair, aka “The Nature Boy,” in recent memory.

Similar to Shaquille O’Neal’s emotional interview, where he reflected on his biggest mistakes in life and shed a few tears, Flair broke down during an emotional interview that included him discussing the anniversary of his son’s tragic passing in addition to his own recent near-death experience. 

Joined by co-hosts and former NFL stars Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor, Flair begins the episode by sharing with the hosts the inspiration for the larger-than-life persona that he cultivated through his in-ring antics and beyond, including a surprising source for his legendary swagger.

“It really started when I saw Joe Namath at Alabama,” said Flair. “I was in high school when I heard he had slept with a hundred girls his freshman year, and I said, that’s my kind of man. I say to this day, if you put Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning all in a room, and Namath is also in that room, who’s the first guy you’d talk to?
“There was nobody like him. He turned that league around, and he doesn’t get enough credit because of his injuries. He just brought so much charisma to sports. I just thought he was it.”

 

 

As the conversation progressed, the hosts did what they do best and gave Flair a platform to discuss the darker moments from his life, including his own health scare that he suffered in 2017 that nearly ended his life and led to him really grappling with how to move forward.

“I was on life support for 13 days,” said Flair. “I had no memory for six months. I had no memory of the past. They wrote me off. The WWE had already made a video package because I had a five percent chance of living. It really makes you question and reevaluate everything. At the end of the day, if you’re not hurting anybody and you’re not being malicious, it’s not wrong to have fun. I’m not going to stop.”

As Flair mentions that he plans to continue having fun because of the great place his family is in (his daughter Charlotte is a wrestling champion and growing legend), it reminds him that he is nearing the 10-year anniversary of the tragic passing of his son Reid due to an accidental overdose.

Flair breaks down in tears describing the moments before Reid’s passing in detail, before explaining how he coped with the shocking tragedy that upended his life.

“You learn after time, that heroin is not an addiction, it’s a disease,” said Flair. “For five years I drank from 10 in the morning until 2 a.m. because of that. I quit working out and everything. … I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t live with myself. Every day I’d wake and it’s still right in front of me what had happened.
“He won 14 state and AAU wrestling championships, and I think to myself, maybe I pushed him too hard. He got into Blair Academy, and they had 21 prep school national championships. That was big time, but I wonder if I pushed him too hard. When I saw he had these gifts, I felt I had to get a jump on it. I think about it every day. Especially because he would have been so good at this business. He had it.”

As the conversation turned back to wrestling, Flair would go on to reveal that his signature “woo!” catchphrase was derived from Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1957 hit “Great Balls of Fire,” before admitting that his in-ring persona and the worldwide fame it has garnered him is something he truly cherishes.

At 73 years old, Flair continues to stay in touch with the younger generation and build on his legacy. He makes himself available to the culture.

“I don’t want that day to come where I’ll walk into a place and people won’t know who I am,” said Flair. “That’s not ego talking, it’s just that you get there, and you have those moments, and it’s a big deal. I’m able to be here entertaining you guys. How much better does life get than that?”

In closing out the episode, Flair concedes that his full-on “Nature Boy” days from his youth are passed but reiterates that despite mistakes he’s made in his past, that same vigor for life and celebration are still with him permanently.

 

 

“To be in that position and be in it for so long, it’s the greatest thing in the world for me,” said Flair. “I’ve had to relive looking back through my behavior … so my days of jumping on the bar and buying a hundred kamikazes are behind me — I may just buy two now.”
JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.