Local Hero –

Sep. 17, 2020 – “In this profession, you have many temptations but being sober is part of who I am today. It’s easy to say no to people when I am offered a drink. It used to not be that way.” Going back to those times that it wasn’t easy to say no, Velasquez explained, “My alcoholism started off as just fun. Drinks here and there, parties, the good old times with the friends and ladies. Then, it became very bad when I started drinking on my own. Late-night calls to my mother crying for no reason, missing training sessions for Real Salt Lake, driving under the influence, showing up to training sessions hungover and smelling like alcohol.”

“One time, I had two of my RSL teammates do an intervention on me at my apartment, asking me to seek help because they thought I had a problem. I always denied it and keep moving forward as long as I was playing well. My drinking became almost drinking every day unless I was starting on the weekend so I wouldn’t drink Fridays to play Saturday. Soccer held a tab on me and it finally made me pay for all my unprofessional actions.”

With multiple professional seasons under his belt and his drinking getting worse, Velasquez talked about the low point for his battle with alcoholism. “It was in 2014, I had a DUI at RSL but that wasn’t enough for me to change,” he said. “It was the second DUI on December 11, 2014, in Greenville when I was on vacation visiting my dad.”

“I borrowed a car to go get a haircut. Atletico Nacional was playing the final of Copa Sudamericana so after my cut, I walked into a restaurant right beside the barbershop to watch the game. I started buying drinks for myself and was super hammered in less than 45 mins. I go in the car, and try to go back to my family’s house.”

He didn’t make it back to the family home that night. “I ended up running a red light to cross the bridge and the car hits the railing and almost flips, but it bounces back from the railing to stay on the road,” he recalled. “A cop sees this as it happens and puts the lights on me. I drive into the next parking lot and try to run away. I was so drunk that I trip over and they jump on me and lock me up. I wake up the next day in the jail cell, puking, crying, and all sorts.”

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