De La Hoya hopes second time is charm
Oscar De La Hoya said in a lengthy telephone interview with Yahoo! Sports on Thursday that he had also entered drug and alcohol rehabilitation in 2009, but that “it didn’t work” and he left after a week.
But De La Hoya said he voluntarily checked himself into a rehabilitation center in Malibu, Calif., in May because he needed to turn his life around.
De La Hoya reached out to Yahoo! Sports two days after giving an explosive interview to Teresa Rodriguez on Univision’s “Aqui y Ahora” in which he admitted he is an alcoholic, harbored thoughts of suicide and had been unfaithful to his wife of 10 years, Millie Corretjer.
The former six-division world boxing champion, who is now president of Golden Boy Promotions, one of the sport’s dominant promoters, said he feels “15, 14 years old again. I’m anxious to live a pure, plain, honest life with no secrets and no lies.”
He admitted again that the photographs of him taken in 2007 wearing women’s lingerie were legitimate and came about when he was in a cocaine and alcohol-induced haze. He vehemently denied, however, a New York Post report on Thursday which said he paid a $20 million settlement to Milana Dravnel to keep her from talking about the racy photos.
“That’s baloney. Baloney,” De La Hoya said of the report.
De La Hoya did not dodge any questions on Thursday about his problems. He said he decided to speak to the media about his problems because he felt burdened by keeping the secrets. He said he had discussed his plans with his wife before agreeing to appear on Univision and then doing subsequent interviews.
He said Thursday that though the last 48 hours have brought a lot of negative attention on his personal life, he feels good about what he’s done. Talking publicly has helped him cleanse his soul in a way, he said.
“I just felt doing this was something I had to do,” De La Hoya said. “I felt all these years, I was bottling everything in. I felt that I had to unload, to get rid of the lies, the secrets, and to apologize for the pain I caused to everyone. I just got tired of living a lie and I think me talking about it was a way to put that behind me. After doing it, I could finally breathe.”
He conceded, though, that in the moments before the Univision crew arrived in his office to conduct the interview, he had second thoughts. He said he knew the impact his revelations would make and said he was nervous as he awaited the start of the interview.
He never seriously considered pulling out, though, but said he had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach until the cameras began to roll.
“I was scared; very nervous, very scared,” he said. “But something told me, ‘You have to do this. You have to do this for yourself. ’ I feel I did the right thing, and one of the ways I know that is after, I felt great. And I still do. My addictions impacted my relationships in a lot of ways and by talking about it, this was a way for me to get rid of all of that.”
Some have interpreted his comment about golf star Tiger Woods in his interview with Univision as a cheap shot and not a full admission. When Rodriguez asked him if he were a sex addict, De La Hoya said, “We are obviously not talking a Tiger Woods here, but I was unfaithful.”
[Related: Former champ admits to suicidal thoughts]
He told Yahoo! Sports Thursday he didn’t mean any ill will toward Woods and was accepting responsibility for his own shortcomings. He said by referencing Woods, he was simply trying to point out to Rodriguez that he had a different type of addiction.
“I meant no harm at all toward Tiger Woods and if he is offended by what I said, I apologize completely,” De La Hoya said. “Obviously, there are different addictions in life: Sex, alcohol, substance abuse, gambling, all sorts of them. I was admitting that ‘Yes, I did cheat on my wife,’ and ‘Yes, I was unfaithful,’ and ‘Yes, I do have addictions.’ But my addiction is to alcohol and my drug of choice was cocaine. I was just saying that I don’t have a sex addiction, but I didn’t mean to offend Tiger Woods in any way.
“Yes, I did cheat on my wife, but I didn’t cheat on a regular basis. My comments in answering that question were never meant as a cheap shot at Tiger. He has his issues and I have mine, and I’m dealing with mine the best way I can.”
De La Hoya, who said he thought his drug and alcohol abuse shaved “four to five years off my boxing career,” said he is still working to repair his relationship with his wife. He admits it is difficult and it is a fight he has not yet won.
He said he understands the pain his substance abuse and infidelity caused her and realizes that Corretjer needs proof that he’s changed.
“Our marriage is a work in progress,” he said. “I’m walking the walk, but it’s up to me to show her, to prove to her, that what I am saying is real. This is a tremendous challenge. She’s tired of me coming to her with the puppy eyes and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ She doesn’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry,’ anymore. I have to keep walking the walk.
“Since this all came out, I’m actually relieved with the response she’s been getting and the support she’s received. I can see a little twinkle in her eye again. I know this isn’t a one-day or a one-week thing. My marriage and my family are the most important thing to me and it’s something I have to work on every day for the rest of my life.”
De La Hoya said his story may be beneficial to others who don’t share his celebrity status, but he said he had a more selfish reason for making his revelations.
He needed to do it to help himself. If, as a part of that, it helps someone else, he said he’d be thrilled, but said the reason for going public was to help himself.
“You hear about these stories of celebrities having DUIs and going into rehab, but there are millions and millions of every day, normal people out there who are fighting this same fight,” he said. “I did this for myself. I needed to do it. But if someone can take it and it helps them and helps them change their own life, great, I’m happy for them.
“I’ve learned the hard way, being an addict isn’t easy, especially for a public person like me. I’ve had people of all walks of life coming up to me and crying and telling me about their lives and problems. I’m happy if I could help them and get them some relief, but I did what I did for me.”
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