Geelong legend Gary Ablett Sr has spoken out about the tragic death of Alisha Horan from over 20 years ago.
Horan lost her life in February 2000 at the age of 20 while on a fatal carousel of drugs and alcohol with the ex-football legend.
Ablett, who averaged four goals per game during his AFL career from 1982-1997, took a turn for the worst after his he hung up the boots.
The then 38-year-old Ablett pled guilty to possessing and using drugs and landed himself with a $1500 fine.
The incident happened three years after his career came to a close, casting a dark shadow on him for years to come.
Speaking about the tragedy on a Facebook Live event hosted by Reclink Australia, Ablett recalls how "it still grieves me to this day" and the impact his christian values have had in the 20 years since.
“Really transparent and honest, there’s been times, especially when, with moral failure some 20 years ago where I was involved in drugs and there was a young lady that overdosed … I can’t tell you how much that shattered me, how much it broke me as a person. It still grieves me to this day,” Ablett said on the Reclink Australia stream.
“It’s only been my relationship with Jesus Christ that has got me through, because of His unconditional love and acceptance and knowing that if I repent and I’m genuinely sorry for what I’ve done, He forgives me because He’s paid for it all on the cross. Without him, I couldn’t have kept going.
“After that happened I didn’t want to be here for a number of years and I said to God, ‘you should have taken me instead’. It’s been a very painful experience.
“If only I could go back in time and change things I would. Unfortunately we don’t get that opportunity.
“That’s why I’m learning … that’s why choices in life are so important because once we’ve made a choice or a decision, we don’t get the chance to go back in time and change it.”
The 59-year-old, who booted 1031 goals in a 248 game career, continues to explain the negative repercussions of drugs and alcohol.
“No one likes emotional pain – especially long-term – and it’s so easy to want to turn to things to numb our pain, to escape reality,” he said.
“But the problem is when the drugs wear off and the alcohol wears off, we not only wake up with a hangover, our problems are back worse than ever often because what we’ve done while we’ve been on the drugs or on the drink can add more pain, or even shame, to our lives.
“We need to make sure that we get our decisions right the first time – that’s been a big lesson for me. I just wish I had have known that a lot earlier.”
Ablett adds how we are all "struggling" in some way, allowing us all to understand one another.
“As human beings we were created for perfection, but there was a fall and we now live with a fallen nature in a fallen world. Unfortunately, that brings with it not just sinfulness, but brokenness and pain.
“I don’t find it hard to connect with people who are in pain or struggling because I think the reality is everyone out there is struggling to some degree.”