While music thumps and people laugh in the background, tough guy Larry DePalma talks about how he tried to kill himself several times since leaving the National Hockey League in a new video called, "Cannabis and Concussion."
In the YouTube video, DePalma, who played professional hockey for teams in San Jose, Pittsburgh and Minnesota, lays out the facts of his traumatic brain injuries and how the medical use of marijuana stopped him from thoughts of suicide and halted his addictions to alcohol and pain pills. He joins fellow Detroit Red Wing, Darren McCarty, in supporting the current medical marijuana system while also advocating for the legalization measure offered by the MILegalize organization in Michigan. DePalma's interview was taped during one of the MILegalize fundraisers in Detroit.
DePalma and McCarty had reputations as enforcers on the ice, and both men still look like they could put Claude Lemieux face down in the face-off circle with a single punch. McCarty was famed in Detroit as a member of the Grind Line; DePalma is featured on Hockeyfights.com with an amazing 12 notable fights in a single year while he skated for the Minnesota North Stars.
In the video DePalma explains how he suffered "eight major concussions" and numerous minor ones during his 11-year hockey career; he has been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury and CTE, another head injury. In a 2012 video for a treatment program, DePalma explained the severity of these injuries.
"I've probably had maybe five major concussions to where I didn't know where I was for a day or two... you would miss, maybe, three days (of hockey play)." DePalma was diagnosed with TBI and CTE in 2010, and he described his condition at that time.
"It was bad. I couldn't talk, my speech was slurred, people thought I was drunk or high or something," he said in that advertisement. "It got so bad to where I couldn't even walk, my equilibrium was off. I couldn't stand on one leg for more than three seconds; I couldn't look up, because I would fall right backwards."
That 2012 video for a brain injury treatment program features a clip of a fight between DePalma and McCarty.
Both he and McCarty have described the difficulties of life after hockey- the pain pills and depression, alcohol abuse, destructive behavior and worse.
In the new video DePalma discusses how cannabis has offered solutions traditional medicine could not give. "These concussions ruin people's lives. Me... had a gun in my mouth three times," DePalma confesses on the video, "and alcohol... Finally the cannabis came out and saved my life."
Both men credit marijuana for being a bridge away from addiction and as a healing tool for injury. DePalma claims medical marijuana alleviated his brain injuries, the continuous pain, symptoms of gout, rage, depression and other physical ailments. McCarty makes no secret of his alcohol addiction and the effect marijuana has had in him beating booze.
DePalma and McCarty are both Michigan residents, both former hockey greats and both are newly-emerged advocates for marijuana use. Michigan's medical marijuana law has helped both former players recover from issues created by their pro hockey days, and the pitfalls that can haunt a post-professional athlete's career.
DePalma made his first public announcement of medicinal marijuana use at a recent MILegalize charity event. McCarty 'came out' about his marijuana use in famous fashion- by announcing it to thousands of people at this year's Hash Bash celebration in Ann Arbor.
"For me, standing up here as a full-blown alcoholic, who has fought for years and years that demon... that's just no way to live." McCarty told the audience gathered at the University of Michigan's Diag. "Through medical marijuana, through this plant, there is life."
After the announcement McCarty has been in high demand as a speaker on the topic at various events across the state. The four-time Stanley Cup winner has anchored events at the famous BDT's Smoke Shops, he's visited northern Michigan to support embattled marijuana patients and he's lent his celebrity to several of the MILegalize events. McCarty has done two or more events in a single day as he advocates for stronger protections for marijuana consumers.
Both men will be featured during an MILegalize fundraiser in Ann Arbor on May 11 at Dominick's Restaurant.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles