Sunday, October 25

Playing with Fire- Theoren Fleury

I just finished reading the memoirs of Theoren Fleury. For those of you who have never heard of him, he was probably one of the greatest hockey players to play in the NHL.
The book is written in a very raw and in your face kind of way. He is no James Joyce, but the way it is written draws you in regardless. It's almost like he is sitting down with you over a cup of coffee and telling you his story.
Believe me, what a story!
Originally from Russell, Manitoba, Fleury worked his way through the ranks of minor hockey to be part of the 1989 Flames team that won the Stanley Cup. His experiences as a young player were tarnished by the sick pedophilic advances of his coach when he was 14 years old. The damage left behind on Fleury's psyche from the sexual abuse continually haunted him and caused him to spiral down and literally blow away millions of dollars on drugs, gambling and strippers. He recounts how he would party all night, come back at 6 a.m, and score a hat trick that night on the ice.
I remember when the fashion shows were happening in Milan, the professional soccer players were always backstage hanging around. They wanted to see and be seen with the gorgeous women wearing the fabulous clothes. I met a few, both in Italy and in Brazil and there was always one vein that was common to them all. They were just normal guys with the same insecurities that people have, thrown into the spotlight and having to perform for huge crowds weekly. They were passionate about the game, its all they really knew. Unfortunately, there were always the 'dark' elements waiting for them to bring them down, the hangers-on, the 'entourage', the money hungry gold diggers. I saw this so many times I have lost count.
There is a parralel between pro athletes and fashion models and the fact that they end up going out with each other is because they 'get it'. They both have to deal with the same 'dark' elements. How many young girls in Paris starting out as models were abused by their agents? More than anyone will ever know. I know of a few and I had to fend off my agent when I was 17. Reading Fleury's book brought that memory back to me. The same fear factor that Fleury's coach used on him was used on me and other girls in Paris. Luckily I was able to get out the situation before it became severely damaging to my psyche and moved on with my life. I didn't go down the same path as Fleury, but I know a lot of girls that did.
Young, far from family and familiarity. A recipe for disaster and perfect for the soul stealers and vampires to pounce.
Fleury has beem clean and sober for four years. He tried a comeback with the Flames, but was cut from the team. He retired a Flame.
He wrote that the reason he wrote this memoir was to bring to light the abuse that happens on a daily basis in the sports world. He is to be commended for comng forward and exposing parts of his life to total strangers.
I always loved how he was a tough cookie on the ice and was fearless against the 'goon squads' of the NHL. His tenacity is his greatest strength.
Thank you Mr. Fleury for sharing you life story. If your book stops even one child from being abused in the future, you have scored the best goal of your life.

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