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Colts owner Jim Irsay says past drug overdose stopped his breathing, almost killed him

Jim Irsay continues to open up about his struggles with addiction. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Jim Irsay continues to open up about his struggles with addiction. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has opened up further about his struggles with addiction, revealing in a recent interview that a past drug overdose stopped his breathing and almost killed him.

Irsay, who has spoken candidly in the past about his battles with drugs and alcohol, made the revelation in an interview with Andrea Kremer for HBO's "Real Sports." HBO teased the full interview with a clip published on social media Monday.

In the clip, Irsay tells Kremer that he has been in rehab "at least 15 times." He then told a story of a near-death experience. Kremer asked if he has "actually ever overdosed."

"Oh yeah," Irsay said. "One time, I was trying to detox myself, and I mixed multiple drugs that I didn't know anything about. So all of a sudden, I start slurring my words. And then code blue, I stop breathing. And they revive me and the doctor goes, 'Jim, you're one lucky man because I had virtually signed the death certificate.'"

Irsay, 64, started his career as a Colts executive in 1984 under his father Robert's ownership. He took over as majority owner at 37 years old in 1997 upon Robert's death.

Irsay's battles with addiction have played out in public during his ownership tenure. In 2014, Irsay checked into a rehab center after an arrest on charges of driving under the influence and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Police say that Irsay was in possession of multiple bottles of prescriptions drugs and more than $29,000 in cash when they pulled him over for allegedly driving erratically. Per the police report, he failed a field sobriety test, and his driver's license was suspended for a year after he refused to submit to a blood test. Prosecutors eventually dismissed the felony charges, and Irsay pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Irsay has since spoken openly about his struggles, including a 2022 interview with The Associated Press.

“My self-will had to be abandoned because my self-will was killing me," Irsay said. "The only way I could be helped was to surrender and give way to become teachable and give way to some power greater than me.”

He has leaned on his personal experiences in establishing an initiative alongside the Colts to advocate for mental health awareness.

“I know what it’s like to be at hell’s gates," Irsay told AP in 2022. "I know what it’s like to feel the bars of hell and be in that darkness."

His revelation to Kremer was the first time he'd publicly discussed his near-death experience.