CUT BANK — Since he was released from prison on parole in December of 2014, former Great Falls CMR and NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf has spent the past three-plus years speaking out about mental health and substance abuse issues, talking candidly about his life and sharing his story of recovery with the world.
On Sunday night, his journey brought him back to central Montana, where he spoke at “Meeting the Challenge,” a substance abuse workshop hosted by the Glacier Community Health Center at Cut Bank High School.
Leaf lives in Los Angeles and shares his message to all demographics — from high school kids to prison inmates to support and recovery groups. But he hadn’t been back to the Hi-Line since he walked out of the gates of the Crossroads Correctional Facility in Shelby nearly four years ago.
Being able to share his message just 20 miles from the place where his life started to change for the better was a surreal and powerful experience.
“I think I texted ‘weird’ to my parents,” Leaf said. “It feels like it was 20 years ago, you know? I know it was a lot sooner, but my life has changed dramatically simply because of the choices I’ve been making over the last three-and-a-half years.
“But I feel like I want to continue to do that and part of it is to show up here in central Montana and share my story and try to impact the community that I kind of felt like I took from most of my life.”
Leaf also spoke at an event in Missoula on Friday and shared his message to high school and middle school students on Monday morning.
MTN Sports will have much more with Leaf and his return to the Treasure State at MontanaSports.com later this week as the focus of our Sunday Conversation series.