Mental illness or brain injury? Driven by voices to commit crime, Titus Young is in prison but still believes he could play in the NFL

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By Nathan Fenno, LA Times

1/29/18

“Having bipolar has pretty much torn down my life,” Young wrote in the diary. “It’s been four years of fighting so many different behaviors. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t want to believe it because I felt my life was too perfect to have bipolar. Football players don’t take medicine. I’m macho. Put me back on the field. But, no, that’s really not what I needed.”

The former NFL wide receiver with “FEAR GOD” etched on his biceps and his mother’s name written over his heart opened the worn black composition book with a faded newspaper photograph of retired NBA player Metta World Peace taped to the cover.

Titus Young was once classified among the most dangerous inmates at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles and spent most of his days in lockdown. In early 2017, he started to write.

“I have made so many mistakes I have become a little ashamed of being Titus Young,” he scribbled in fast-paced printing. “A lot of the stuff I have done was out of my control during the time. … I was hearing voices.a”Hea

“Hearing voices is no joke, it’s actually very scary. I feel like someone is trying to come kill me.”

The diary is 141 pages, started Feb. 2 and finished about two months later. Young, who hopes to turn it into a book, asked a relative to share excerpts with the Los Angeles Times rather than agree to an interview.

 

Entries meander from one topic to another, some written in textbook cursive, others in printing that’s barely decipherable. Young, then 27, wrote about wanting to be a better father to his young son. About gnawing hunger, cold and feeling homeless during four months in lockdown. About mental illness.

And about football. Always football.

 

“God is great still being behind bars because this has given me a chance to share my side of my story, which coming from the public has been so negative,” Young wrote.

His once-promising career with the Detroit Lions disintegrated in a series of altercations and worrisome behavior. He accumulated at least 25 criminal charges — including 10 for assault or battery — in Southern California since 2013. He bounced between mental health treatment facilities, courtrooms and jail.

 

“I want to be free,” Young wrote. “I believe God has a plan for me and deep down I believe it’s to dominate the NFL.”

The collision lingers in E.C. Robinson’s mind.

 

The former football coach at University High School in West L.A. witnessed plenty of big hits. But during a 2006 game against San Pedro, Robinson watched Young slam into an opposing tight end. The player went one direction, the ball went another. Young threw himself at opponents this way, lowering his head before impact and turning his body into a missile.

 “That was the worst I’ve seen,” Robinson said. “It’s one hit where I thought maybe something happened.”

 

Perhaps that’s when the trouble started.

Young didn’t look like a football player when he arrived at University, maybe 100 pounds and not taller than 5 feet. Robinson laughed when Young predicted he would play. The impulsive, charismatic son of two pastors didn’t lack confidence.

“I was a very immature kid,” Young told a teammate in a video interview during his senior year. “No one could tell me anything. I always thought I was right. Finally, I found out I was the person who was being bad, the person that no one could talk to. I was tired of being the bad person in the dean’s office. I always wished I was someone else.”

In another video, of his football highlights, Young shouted: “Who can stop me? Who can stop me?” An off-camera voice replied: “No one.”

Young’s world-class speed and glue-like hands earned a scholarship to Boise State. The combination made him one of the country’s most feared wide receivers. The fear also took on other forms. Coach Chris Petersen suspended Young three times, including much of his sophomore season after a scuffle with a teammate.

More than a dozen of Young’s Boise State teammates and coaches, including Petersen, either declined to comment or didn’t respond to interview requests….

Read More:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/nfl/la-sp-nfl-young-mental-health-20180128-htmlstory.html

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