Irving high school grads return to alma mater with positive message

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 5:32 PM

IRVING –– A team of former Irving MacArthur athletes returned to their alma mater on Thursday, 27 years after they almost won the state football championship.  

But they didn't come to reminisce about their glory days; they came to deliver a powerful message to today's young athletes about making bad decisions that could ruin their lives. 

Reggie Finch was the star running back of the 1986 MacArthur Cardinals.  He went on to play for The University of Oklahoma on a full scholarship. But then came some bad decisions that led to illegal drugs and prison.  

"I ended up falling into homelessness, eating out of dumpsters, going onto the shelters, sleeping under bridges," said Finch.    

Jeff Mitchell was the captain of the '86 Cardinals. He started a successful concrete business. Life was good, until he got hooked on methamphetamine.  

"A lot of choices that I made were bad, and that's what we try to get brought here to these kids," said Mitchell.

Rick Smith was a MacArthur Wrestler, who followed his dream to coach. But Smith, like Finch and Mitchell, hit rock bottom. He became addicted to prescription drugs.  He lost his marriage, his career and almost his life.  

That's why he started Rock Bottom Outreach.  

"It got so out of control, I didn't know what to do," said Smith.  "I was afraid to come forward and admit I was an addict."

The former Cardinals met the current Cardinals today.  Their message was simple, but powerful: Poor decisions have big consequences.  

"It is a punch in the mouth message to say, you know, you're looking at someone who has actually hit rock bottom," said Smith.

Email sstoler@wfaa.com

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