Now at 47, Baker is sober and trying to help others get back on track.
Here’s his story in his own words:
“My journey to recovery started with me hitting rock bottom in all facets of my life. Spiritually, physically, financially and probably in that order. I got tired of being tired. I just woke up one morning after having this amazing career and life of being in the NBA, and being an All Star, and being an Olympian in my time to waking up and everything being gone.
My first step in recovery for me was, I failed in recovery a couple of times, interestingly enough my first step to recovery and getting 9 years of sobriety was failing multiple times. I just literally looked into the mirror one day and said ‘God, I need your help.’
So when you start the road to recovery, the first thing is that you have to want it, no one can want it for you and I will add also the conditions of your recovery.
My first few times of going to recovery, like I was in Boston playing for the Celtics as matter of fact, and the first time I went into detox was ‘I got to save my contract, I’ve got to save my career.’ It wasn’t I have to save my life and those were the very reasons that kept me in this vicious cycle of relapsing all the time.
So because of being a public figure for me, I honestly think it took me longer, my very first time going to detox I used an alias. For five months straight, true story, I used a character from a TV show when I was in group settings to cover up who I was, which is kind of weird because I’m six foot eleven, and my first recovery, detox attempt, was in New England. And I was playing for the Boston Celtics so I know people were in the room like, “we know who you are!”, the funny part was, I didn’t know who I was.
My message for people trying to get to the road to recovery is to be in touch with your vulnerability, be in touch with the fact that you’re powerless. It took me so long to realize that I have a problem because I thought I had all the power.
What would I change? I honestly at this point wouldn’t change a thing because again I’m piling up so many amazing days. Where else would I want to be in life at 47 then sitting in an NBA Arena with an opportunity to win a championship after everything that I’ve been through.
So if I was sober for 46 years what would I want to change at 47? So I don’t want to change anything. I have a beautiful family, I’ve got a wonderful organization, I’ve got friends that love and care about me and people that I love and care about. And I’ve got a tremendous testimony to share, there’s no better place I’d rather be.”