Olympic swimming titan Michael Phelps gets the Sports Illustrated cover-story treatment this week with a Tim Layden long-read. The first thing you notice:
In the article, Phelps talks at length about his arrest on DUI charges in September 2014. “I was in a really dark place,” Phelps told Layden. “Not wanting to be alive anymore.” After consulting with his family, Coach Bob Bowman and advisers such as former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Phelps decided to check into an alcohol-treatment facility in Arizona.
“Hug-hug, kiss-kiss, turn in my phone and go to my room,” Phelps said. “It’s probably the most afraid I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Phelps has vowed not to drink until after next year’s Rio Olympics, and says his training is better for the decision.
“Haven’t had a single sip and will not have a sip,” he said. “My body fat has dropped significantly, and I’m leaner than I’ve ever been. The performances were there because I worked, recovered, slept and took care of myself more than I ever had.”
Phelps says Rio will be his last Olympics. He’s engaged to Nicole Johnson after convincing her that he had turned around his life. Kids are in their future, he says, as is further work with the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes water safety. All this after one more shot at Olympic gold.
“I’m back to being the little kid who once said anything is possible,” Phelps said. “You’re going to see a different me than you saw in any of the other Olympics.”