Darren Prince has lived the life that only some dream about. From flying on private jets, to red carpet appearances, to standing on the sidelines of Super Bowl, Prince has made a name for himself as a celebrity super-agent in the entertainment world.
However, despite the numerous accolades and accomplishments throughout his career – from representing and working with mega-stars like Magic Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Muhammed Ali, and Chevy Chase, Prince found himself hitting rock bottom at the top of his career – while holding a secret that dictated his every move – an addiction to opiates.
“I was a networking machine. I portrayed to have this incredible life, and looked like I was all put together. I had the dream job. Eventually what was once living to use turned out to use to live. I don’t know where it turned on me.”
Wheeling and Dealing
Today, Prince is coming up on 11 years of continuous sobriety, but as he reflects back on his early years, he recalls the signs of his disease that started from childhood.
“I was told from early on I had a learning disability. I never felt apart-of and always felt different. Each night as a kid I would be in my bedroom collecting and studying baseball cards. When I studied them I noticed something would happen with my brain. I knew exactly how many home runs Darryl Strawberry hit the year before, what his batting average was,” Darren said. “I had become this walking encyclopedia of statistics, I felt amazing and like I had a purpose, and then I would go to school the next day, where I always felt less than, in the back of the classroom.”
Eventually persuading his Father to buy insurance on the baseball cards, Prince was off to the races selling them, feeling a sense of purpose.
“I was in the middle of the action, wheeling and dealing, buying, selling, trading,” he said. “When I got home that night from selling my cards, there was an emptiness. Eventually the euphoria wore off. I was back to being that learning disabled kid in the classroom, so I was always looking for this outside fix.”
As time went on, 14 year old Prince grew to 25. He reached the pinnacle of his success, developing a multi-million dollar company and finding the vice that would soon become his downfall – opiates.
“Soon Chevy Chase, Pamela Anderson, and Smokin’ Joe Frazier were on my list,” he said. “I started getting pressure to perform at the highest level in the agent world. If I had walked into a room with Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazer, I’d see people like Steven Spielberg, President Clinton, and Michael Jackson,” he recalled. “At the time, I had to play another role, but in all these crazy moments, I’m still inside feeling like that 14 year old kid, not feeling apart-of.”
Developing sciatica in his back, he was prescribed Vicodin, oxycontin, and percocet. “That was it, it was on from there. For the next seven years, I took it all, but it was a recipe for disaster,” Prince stated.
“I Should Be Six-Feet-Under”
Darren looks back on the moment where he truly sought the need to change – after a nearly fatal drug overdose in 2007.
“I shouldn’t be talking to you. I should be six-feet-under. God had a bigger plan for me.”
After being in Las Vegas with friend, Dennis Rodman, Prince recalls he had came down with bronchitis. “After seeing a doctor and being prescribed Tussionex, he had drank a ton of vodka along with taking Vicodin and an antibiotic. “At this point, I’m actually happy that I have bronchitis so I could get what I wanted,” he noted. But then, it went all downhill.
“I fell on the ground. My heart started palpitating, I was foaming at the mouth, shaking, in and out of consciousness,” he said. “I looked up at the sky and prayed to God not to take me.”
After the EMT’s arrived and cleared the agent, he recalls finishing the bottle of Tussionex and going to bed. “I looked at myself with bags under my eyes and said to myself, ‘you sick bastard – who does that?”
The next week, Prince called an addiction psychiatrist hoping to find the answer to his problem. He was then put on Suboxone and a cocktail of medications to help his ailment. “I started drinking to the point of blackout because I didn’t want to feel anymore. The outside success doesn’t mean crap,” he said. “At that point, I was so miserable I hoped I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.”
“My Bottom Turned Into My Beginning”
After a 12-step call by a cousin, Prince decided to detox from the Suboxone on his own. “In July of 2008, I called up my cousin and said I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m either getting Suboxone or the real shit, I’m out of my mind,” he said. “They started yelling at me and said that this was my disease talking to me and to get to a 12-step meeting. I said there’s no way, 12-step doesn’t work.”
Once Darren hung up the phone he went to the bathroom to take a non-narcotic anxiety pill to help with the cravings, and out came two Vicodin. “For a second it seemed like a gift from God – it was the relief that I needed,” he said. “All of a sudden I fell to my knees, shaking, trembling, and crying. I had the moment.”
At that moment, Prince prayed to God to take his afflictions away from him. “Take the money, the notoriety, the business. Give me one day of freedom,” Darren begged. “I felt this warmth over my right shoulder, and I heard a voice tell me, ‘I’ve got you if you’re ready.'” At that moment, the agent opened his hand over the toilet and flushed the drugs. He then found a 12-step meeting and 10 minutes later was in a taxi and on his way. “For the first time in 23 years I wanted to stay sober more than I wanted to get high,” he said. “I walked into a church basement with 150 addicts and alcoholics and threw my hand up and said, ‘I’m Darren and I’m an addict,’ and after that, a dozen men came over to me like they knew me my whole life. That’s when my bottom turned into my beginning.”
A day turned into a week, which turned into a month, which turned into almost 11 years as of today. And, throughout his decade worth of sobriety, Prince still credits his sobriety as his biggest success.
“I’ve dealt with death of clients, Dennis Rodman had his media issues, Hulk Hogan had his issues, and for them I can be the voice of reason,” he said. “My sobriety is so natural to me now. Though, I do love when things get a little crazy and they go sideways because that’s when the spiritual growth comes into play. I’m not able to just go through the big problem, but I can grow through the big problem.”
In October of 2018, Prince decided to get fully candid about his story and release his best-selling memoir, Aiming High.
“Aiming High wasn’t about my successes on the outside. It’s what I’ve done inside myself with my soul,” he said. “My Father passed in 2017 and always wanted me to write a book on the super agent life, but I never felt too comfortable doing that because I’ve learned that I need to check my ego at the door.”
Upon release of the book, Darren’s movement of advocacy for addiction has clients and celebrities talking alike. With a foreward by Magic Johnson, he’s clearly not aiming for anything else than the top. With recognition from Mark Cuban, Hulk Hogan, Rick Flair and Doctor Drew, Price is clearly making an imprint on the addiction crisis.
Today, Darren attends 12-step meetings, hits the gym, attends speaking events, and credits Joel and Victoria Olsteen as a key factor in his recovery. “I also don’t just get what I need in the 12-step fellowship. I have some other tools on the outside so I stay on that balanced and spiritual beam,” he noted. “I have an NLP practitioner that helps with underlying issues that have followed me since I was a kid. I want to make sure I’m the best I can be.”
While the private jets and the high-profile appearances may seem like a life those could only dream about, through his journey of addiction and recovery, Darren’s story is a clear example of that the material items are nothing unless you’re truly fulfilled on the inside.
“We all have today, whether you have 20 years or two days of sobriety. Whatever you’ve accomplished on the outside doesn’t mean crap. We’re all trying to do the best we can with what we have one day at a time.”