Among the hundreds of college quarterbacks in America, Donavan Tate might have the most intriguing and unusual backstory: After being drafted out of high school with the third pick in the 2009 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres, he struggled with injuries and substance addiction and never made it to the major leagues. Now he's a 26-year-old freshman quarterback at the University of Arizona, seeking one last chance to make it as a pro athlete. He spoke to B/R's Michael Weinreb about overcoming his troubles, and about his hopes for the future. I can't imagine I'll ever forget the day I began to change my life, but in case I ever do, it's literally tattooed on my right shoulder: January 27, 2013. I was in northern California, checking into a rehab facility thousands of miles from my hometown in Georgia, and I still wasn't entirely sure what I was doing there. A couple of days to detox, I thought to myself, to get my mind straight and get the drugs out of my system, and then I'll be out of here as fast I can. I'd almost made it to rehab a few weeks earlier when my mom helped stage an intervention for me. I'd flown all the way to San Francisco Airport after telling her I wanted to do this alone, and I stood at the gate, knowing my counselor was waiting outside. And then I changed my mind, slept at the airport overnight, turned around and flew back to Georgia, and partied with my friends for a couple more weeks. It was a struggle for me to admit to myself that I needed the help. I'd already been to a monthlong rehab in Tucson, Arizona, a couple of years earlier, after being suspended 50 games for a violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy, but I wasn't ready to confront my demons then either. I was an elite athlete, after all, a bonus baby center fielder with a fat bank account working my way up the minor league ladder. I assumed I could get to the big leagues whether I kept using or not. How bad could it be? I'd been drinking heavily for a few years—I would have drunk all day long if I could—and I'd smoke weed sometimes, but I'd recently started hanging around with the some of the same friends I'd known since I was a star football and baseball player at Cartersville High School. I also got into harder drugs for the first time. I'd been drafted third overall by the Padres out of high school in 2009 and been given a club-record $6.25 million signing bonus, but injuries and my addictions caught up with me that winter. I don't like to use the whole "rock-bottom" cliche, but you can call it whatever you want. So when my mom held a second intervention—this time she even brought in someone from my agent's office, and the dude from the rehab place was there, too, to hold my hand every step of the way—I figured I'd at least give it a try for her sake.
From MLB Bust to 26-Year-Old Freshman QB, Donavan Tate Re-Emerges in the Desert
Bleacher Report | Sep 12