OLYMPICS: Phelps claims Warren's 'Purpose Driven Life' helped him avoid suicide

by Staff, |
Michael Phelps blows past his most challenging competitor in the Men's 200m Butterfly Final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 9, 2016. | REUTERS/David Gray

RIO DE JANEIRO (Christian Examiner) – Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life had a profound impact on Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, ESPN has reported.

After the 2012 Olympiad, when Phelps decided he was retiring from swimming, he reportedly sank deep into depression and started drinking heavily. However, not knowing what to do in life was not his only problem.

He was caught up in a 10-year cycle of broken relationships, isolation from the public and was the subject of tabloid articles. He ate alone. He cried himself to sleep at night. In 2009, just after his historic 8-gold medal performance in the Beijing Olympics, he was caught on camera smoking marijuana.

Phelps owned up to the mistake, but his life continued to spiral. In 2014, the depression and substance abuse pushed him near to the breaking point.

"I thought the world would just be better off without me," Phelps said, according to sports news network. "I figured that was the best thing to do – just end my life."

That is when Phelps read Warren's book, which reportedly lifted his spirits. Other patients soon called him "Preacher Mike" because he read from the book so often and received its message so enthusiastically.

It isn't known if Phelps actually became a Christian, though some have speculated that he did.

Warren tweeted his support for Phelps just before the Olympics began.

"Proud of @MichaelPhelps for his personal victories and excited he'll carry the USA flag at Olympics," Warren wrote.

To read the full article from ESPN, click here.

For a more extensive look at Phelps's life story, click here.