NFL News : Former 2nd-round pick heard voices, lived with bipolar disorder in prison

Former 2nd-round pick heard voices, lived with bipolar disorder in prison

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There's good and bad news in former Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young's story. The bad: he did a bunch of stuff that's illegal in his past, which led him to his current predicament. The good: he's hyper focused on turning it all around and getting back into the NFL. 

Per the Los Angeles Times, Young was once classified among the most dangerous inmates at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles and spent most of his days in lockdown. In early 2017, he started to write.

“I have made so many mistakes I have become a little ashamed of being Titus Young,” he scribbled in fast-paced printing. “A lot of the stuff I have done was out of my control during the time. ... I was hearing voices.

“Hearing voices is no joke, it’s actually very scary. I feel like someone is trying to come kill me.”

The diary is 141 pages, started Feb. 2 and finished about two months later. Young, who hopes to turn it into a book, asked a relative to share excerpts with the Los Angeles Times rather than agree to an interview.

His once-promising career with the Detroit Lions disintegrated in a series of altercations and worrisome behavior. He accumulated at least 25 criminal charges — including 10 for assault or battery — in Southern California since 2013. He bounced between mental health treatment facilities, courtrooms and jail.

“I want to be free,” Young wrote. “I believe God has a plan for me and deep down I believe it’s to dominate the NFL.”

After falling out of the NFL, Young wound up at UCLA's psychiatric hospital. 

Mike Ornstein, who negotiated a handful of marketing deals for Young, visited him at the hospital. He had pleaded with the family to seek treatment.

“They’re churchgoing, God-fearing people that believe Jesus Christ will save everything for their kid, and that’s good when everything is good,” Ornstein said. “When you have a crisis like this, it’s not the best group to be around. … This guy needed professional help and they were trying to keep him at home.”

“Having bipolar has pretty much torn down my life,” Young wrote in the diary. “It’s been four years of fighting so many different behaviors. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t want to believe it because I felt my life was too perfect to have bipolar. Football players don’t take medicine. I’m macho. Put me back on the field. But, no, that’s really not what I needed.”

Later on, new doctors would tell courts that previous clinics misdiagnosed Young as bipolar or schizophrenic. He actually suffered from symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the neurodegenerative disease better known as CTE that’s related to traumatic brain injury.

Larry Burns, the center’s director, repeatedly told the court Young was misdiagnosed.

“He’s a fine young man,” Burns testified. “He was overmedicated. He went sideways uncontrollably. When we got him, we basically decompressed him and he’s been a model. And I see this kid going places.”

Later on, Young got in a lot more trouble, including a lot of violence one night after he got out of supervision. 

“My fight or flight in my brain was off and that could be due to head trauma suffered while playing football,” Young wrote in the diary, a year after the arrest and a stay at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. “All I know now is I’m back to normal and I take good medication and I’m not ashamed of it either.

“It’s kind of hard for me to think wisely in sticky situations where I feel threatened. Taking the medicine allows my mood to be stabilized and helps with hearing voices. Yeah, I have heard voices, as well. The voices came and came from the bipolar. It’s usually when I let my brain relax and focus on others. I can kind of hear them.”

“Thank God I have it all under control now,” Young wrote in a diary entry titled “I’m flawed.” “So when I make this comeback to the league, Rodger Godell [sic] and the rest will understand that athletes are not exempt in mental illness. We have to live with these differences for the rest of our life.”

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Source: Los Angeles Times · Photo Credit: Keystone Press Agency