From Magazine Cover to Robbing Someone At Gunpoint

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From Magazine Cover to Robbing Someone At Gunpoint

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Tony Hoffman comes to Anoka-Ramsey to tell his story of addiction and his path to sobriety.

By Michael Nguyen

Photos by Isiah Bishop 

On Oct. 4, Pro BMXer and Rio Olympic Coach Tony Hoffman came to tell his story in front of a packed Anoka-Ramsey gym on the Coon Rapids campus. Students came to listen to Hoffman tell the story of his life of addiction. It’s a story filled with decisions and choices that led Hoffman down a path of destruction.

Hoffman delivered powerful stories as he took the audience through events that ultimately led him to heroin addiction. Hoffman also provided insight into his mind during the times of addiction.

“It was really insightful and inspiring for him to share his story like that,” said Taylor Thoennes, a student at Anoka-Ramsey.

As a gifted athlete in high school, Hoffman landed a cover of a BMX magazine. As Hoffman would state, not even three years later he would be robbing someone at gunpoint for OxyContin.

For Hoffman, what started as partying and smoking weed once a month, eventually led to him using dirty gutter water to mix with his heroin. He described that once you walk through the doors of using drugs you can’t just turn back; your life is changed forever.

“I’m not supposed to be alive right now,” Hoffman said in his speech to students. 

Hoffman’s journey ultimately led him to sleeping outside of his old high school and eventually led him to years in prison. Prison is where Hoffman decided to make a change in his life and began his transformation into the man he is today. Now he is a former BMX pro, Olympic coach, and public speaker.

Hoffman sat down with The Campus Eye after his talk and meet and greet on campus. 

“I have felt it’s been my calling since 2007 when I was in a prison cell to share my story,” Hoffman said after his talk. 

Hoffman said knows he’s an addict. He knows there is addiction in his family. He stated repeatedly to the audience that addiction is a part of the mind. It consumes your brain making the addiction the only thing you think about.

“There is a stigma related around addiction and that is that they are people that lack will power or they’re people who make dumb choices. College students are a good audience to understand, look we don’t get to choose whether or not we are addicts. These are things we often find out in the college years,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman suggest asking people with addiction how they are feeling. He also suggested one way to help people with addiction is to help them realize their uniqueness and turn that into something they are passionate about

“It gave me a new perspective on how addicts feel. I never really thought of asking addicts how they feel and taking that next step and how that may help them,” said Kailey Levin, a student at Anoka-Ramsey

Hoffman will continue sharing his story with as many people as possible. He finished by saying that people can change and recovery is possible. He hopes to be able to help and reach people through his life experiences. Hoffman also runs the Freewheel Project a non-profit organization for kids. For more information visit his website.