Dwight Lee was a man worthy of notice. He was raised in the rural community of New Haven, Michigan, where his natural athletic ability led to him being a “four star” high school phenomenon. Lee lettered in track, baseball, basketball, and football.
Dwight Lee’s success in high school sports led to a football scholarship and a successful career at Michigan State University. In his third year of college, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.
The national spotlight led to an increasingly distorted view of reality for Lee. He developed addictions to alcohol, drugs, and fame. Eventually the destructive behavior he exhibited led to the loss of his NFL career, and his fame deteriorated to notoriety. His feelings of grief and loss held him back from recovery for several years.
Dwight Lee’s recovery from alcohol and drug abuse finally happened in 1993. Lee returned to college and became certified as an alcohol and drug counselor, later obtaining Level II credentials. He participates in annual continuing education, and presents lectures on “the Power of Thought” at the addiction recovery center where he is employed as an outpatient recovery counselor. He maintains an independent counseling business at Lifestyle Changes (see links).. Lee made time to and counsel K-12 school students, college students and athletes.
Dwight Lee understood that unrealistic expectations and denial can hinder people in their personal growth. One of the first things Dwight Lee would tell young athletes is to finish their educations. “An education lasts a lifetime,” he would say. He understood the desire of an athlete to participate at the highest levels of competition, he cautioned them that professional sports career is uncertain, even for the top high school and college athletes. “An education is more than a safety net. It is your security.” he advised.
Lee has maintained his sobriety through working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, counseling others in his job at Serenity Lane in Eugene, Oregon, while building a private practice focusing on individual addiction counseling, and by being the church elder in charge of a successful Celebrate Recovery program at Dayspring Fellowship, an independent Church of Christ in Eugene, Oregon.
Dwight Lee’s losses to alcoholism and drug addiction were many: a professional football career; his first wife and two daughters; his reputation, self-respect, and freedom; and the near loss of his second wife and twin daughters. His gains? A life of redemption, working to help recovering addicts and alcoholics and spreading the word of God through his Christian faith. Lee had been married for 22 years to his wife, Della, and they resided in Springfield, Oregon. He had four adult daughters.
Original text by Della and Dwight Lee “You, too, can live a life of consequence through recovery, and Dwight Lee may be the person who can help you. Why don’t you contact him now?” I am so sorry that he is no longer with us to contribute to inspiring so many people’s lives. R.I.P., my friend and mentor.