AFL legend Gary Ablett Sr has opened up on the tragic death of Alisha Horan 20 years ago, in the hope of encouraging others not to go down the same path he did.
The Geelong Cats icon was partying with the 20-year-old in his hotel room in Melbourne when she overdosed on drugs in February 2000.
Horan was believed to be an obsessed fan of Ablett Sr, with the pair partying together three years after his retirement from the the AFL.
Ablett Sr was eventually found not guilty of criminal charges over the incident, but was fined $1500 for using and possessing ecstasy and heroin.
In a recent interview with social inclusion charity Reclink Australia, Ablett said the tragedy left him broken and is his greatest shame.
“Really transparent and honest, there’s been times, especially when, with moral failure some 20 years ago where I was involved in drugs and there was a young lady that overdosed,” Ablett told Reclink Australia.
“I can’t tell you how much that shattered me, how much it broke me as a person. It still grieves me to this day.
“It’s only been my relationship with Jesus Christ that has got me through, because of His unconditional love and acceptance and knowing that if I repent and I’m genuinely sorry for what I’ve done.
“He forgives me because. He’s paid for it all on the cross. Without him, I couldn’t have kept going.
“After that happened I didn’t want to be here for a number of years and I said to God, ‘you should have taken me instead’. It’s been a very painful experience.
“If only I could go back in time and change things I would. Unfortunately we don’t get that opportunity.
“That’s why I’m learning… that’s why choices in life are so important because once we’ve made a choice or a decision, we don’t get the chance to go back in time and change it.”
Ablett was speaking out in the hope of encouraging others not to go down the same path he did while dealing with mental health problems.
“No one likes emotional pain – especially long-term – and it’s so easy to want to turn to things to numb our pain, to escape reality,” he said.
“But the problem is when the drugs wear off and the alcohol wears off, we not only wake up with a hangover, our problems are back worse than ever often because what we’ve done while we’ve been on the drugs or on the drink can add more pain, or even shame, to our lives.
“We need to make sure that we get our decisions right the first time – that’s been a big lesson for me. I just wish I had have known that a lot earlier.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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