After a highly productive four years at Wisconsin, the Denver Broncos invested a second round draft pick in running back Montee Ball. Starting his pro career as a rotational member on one of the best offense’s in NFL history, Ball showed promise as both a runner and a pass catcher, finishing his rookie campaign with 704 yards from scrimmage and four scores.
However, it all went downhill from there. His second year in the NFL was marked by injuries and ended on injured reserve. Entering his third offseason with the Broncos, Ball was already fighting for his roster life – a battle he failed to win. Denver released him in September 2015 and the two-time All-American remained unsigned until the New England Patriots picked him up.
The Patriots signed the talented runner to their practice squad, where he spent the remainder of the 2015 season. After it ended, the team signed him to a one-year futures contract. A little more than a week later, Ball was released: He was jailed after a domestic violence dispute with his girlfriend. As it later turned out, the former second rounder was drunk at the time.
It would not be the only alcohol-related incident of Ball’s life. The son and grandson of two alcoholics, Ball started drinking at the University of Wisconsin and did not stop when the NFL – neither the Broncos nor the Patriots – called. He did not stop after his NFL career had unglamorously ended. Following the domestic violence case in February 2016, Ball was arrested again in April for violating his bond terms.
Later the same year, he was sentenced to 60 days of house arrest and 18 months of probation following another domestic violence dispute. Despite Ball claiming his innocence he accepted the terms of a plea deal that would also include him attending counseling for domestic violence and alcohol abuse.
Fast forward one year.
Ball, who started attending courses at Wisconsin again, celebrated 365 days of sobriety yesterday. He called the birth of his son a turning point: Only a week before his April 2016 arrest, Ball’s son Maverick was born – a child he did not know was about to be his until three months earlier. And yet, it was able to help him get his life back on track one day at a time.
It has been that way for 365 days and counting.