Montee Ball returns to Wisconsin - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Montee Ball returns to Wisconsin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Camp Randall Stadium is where Montee Ball was once on top of the world. It is now where he has returned to pick up the pieces of his world.

From 2009-2012, Ball was one of the best players in the country. He was a Heisman Finalist and won a Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in college football. 

"A lot of fun," Ball says with a smile while reminiscing about his college days. "So many memories."

Ball's seemingly blessed football life continued into the professional ranks. He played in the Super Bowl as a rookie with the Denver Broncos. However, by then, the cracks in his foundation had already appeared.

"I tried to join the big leagues, as they call it, to go out and party with some of the guys, but that didn't work out for me. I kind of did too much, and it affected my play."

Ball estimates he drank four nights a week. The next season, he had his appendix removed and battled a groin injury. After playing just five games in his second season, his NFL career was over. 

"I was still looking to get back out there and play. It was still a dream of mine to play in the NFL. Unfortunately, alcohol had a tight grip on me at the time, and it didn't work out for me."

Ball was on the Patriots' practice squad when the legal issues began. He was accused by two women of domestic violence and ultimately accepted a plea deal in those cases. He was actually in jail when the Broncos won the 2016 Super Bowl.

"Yeah. That was tough. I watched it in jail. I did. Looking back at it now, I think that's what helped change me."

The true motivation for change shortly thereafter.

"Born April 2nd, 2016 at 4:38 p.m. mountain time. From there, my life hasn't been the same in a great way. I now understand that every move, every decision that I make is going to directly impact my son's life."

With that in mind, Ball put down the bottle and picked up a book. He recently celebrated more than a year sober and is planning to finish his sociology degree in the spring. 

"That's going to be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it."

Still just 26 years old, Ball has become active in the Madison community. He loves speaking to kids and is even writing a book about his struggles in hopes of helping others avoid the same pitfalls. He understands not everyone will be willing to overlook his past transgressions.

"At first, it was about 80 percent negative comments, which I was ready for, but within the last year, it's been really 80-90 percent really uplifting comments."

So, Ball is back on campus. He is a Badgers legend looking to piece together his personal legacy.

"I'm Montee Ball. I'm a recovering alcoholic...But for me, I truly focus on where I'm at today and today I'm another day sober. I spoke with my kid today on the phone, and I'm looking forward to starting school and just keep moving forward. I just focus on today. I don't pay much attention to the past. I believe with that mindset, I'll accomplish some great things."

Ball recently attended a Badgers football practice. He says he apologized to Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez for not representing the university in a positive manner. Ball plans to attend the Badgers football games this fall as a fan and a student.

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