• 03/05/2013 (1:43:21 am)
  • Bob Mulrenin

Thanks to Mike Informer

Jake “The Snake” Roberts: “I started drinking when I was 11″
When it comes to the giants of pro wrestling, Jake “The Snake” Roberts (real name Aurelian Smith, Jr.) is right up there. From 1986-1992, Roberts wrestled in stadiums throughout the world with the WWE, winning immense popularity for his intense character, his in-ring psychology and his ever-present pet python.

But all the while, this dark public persona was being outmatched by his true-life troubles outside of the ring. Roberts frequently used drugs and drank heavily throughout his wrestling career, which ultimately led to him being fired from the WWE during a 1997 comeback attempt. A highly unflattering portrayal followed in the 1999 wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat, in which he was reported to have smoked crack in a hotel room after a reunion with his estranged daughter. As he began wrestling on the independent circuit—the equivalent of baseball’s minor leagues—his behavior became increasingly erratic, including instances of drunken breakdowns in the ring and exposing himself to the crowd.

By last summer, he’d reached the point of contemplating suicide. It was then that he was contacted by former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page, whom Roberts had trained in the early stages of his career. Page first urged Roberts to try the DDP Yoga program he had recently launched, and ultimately invited his mentor to stay with him at his home in Georgia. Roberts has now been sober for longer than he’s ever been in his adult life, outside of prison or rehab. He’s currently training for a return to the ring at the age of 56, and chronicling that journey for an upcoming documentary.

In our exclusive interview, Roberts has plenty to say about WWE owner Vince McMahon, ballooning to 300 pounds then working out to lose it again, and why he thinks he’s ready to body-slam his demons once and for all.

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