Brandy Halladay

Revelations and takeaways from the Roy Halladay E60 documentary

Revelations and takeaways from the Roy Halladay E60 documentary

There was so much of note in Friday's powerful hourlong E60 documentary of the life and death of Roy Halladay. Heartbreaking recollections from his widow, Brandy, troubling details of his addiction to prescription opioids, and the valuable lesson that hopefully can come from such a painful tragedy.

"I just wanted him to slow down," Brandy said.

"Roy had none," she said of the balance in his life at points.

"He didn't feel he had the luxury of making mistakes, he was truly tormented."

How Halladay's opioid addiction began

Halladay popped his back during the 2011 season and pitched through it. He pitched through pain the night the Phillies' playoff hopes ended in a gut-wrenching 1-0 loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS after a franchise-record 102 regular-season wins.

Brandy told a story of Roy experiencing such back pain that he once fell down sneezing around that time.

Halladay began taking prescription opioids in the spring of 2012, obtaining them by paying cash to a doctor in Florida who was recommended to him by a Phillies teammate.

"He was continuing to hurt himself, and the more he hurt himself, the more dependent he would be on medication," Brandy said. "He was breaking his back. He actually shrunk three inches from compression in his spine. That's insane."

Former teammate and pupil Kyle Kendrick, who looked up to Halladay as a role model and mentor, noticed that something wasn't right. 

"At his locker, I was right next to him. You'd try to talk to him and you'd feel like he wasn't there," Kendrick said. "As a friend, I felt like I should say something. I felt like he might need help. A teammate and I said something to someone who worked for the team."

The teammate confronted Halladay about his drug use during the 2013 season but nothing changed.

Fear of public scrutiny

Halladay's body became dependent on the medications to function. All the while, he privately dealt with the fear of others finding out. He was tormented by the potential public scrutiny.

"Everybody should be able to ask for help and they shouldn't be looked down on and judged for that," Brandy said several times throughout the documentary. If there is one lesson to be learned from this tragedy, it is that.

Roy Halladay went to rehab for his painkiller addiction during the 2013 season, his final year in the majors. Many Phillies fans will remember the stress-filled, sweat-soaked 13 starts Halladay made that final year. At times, that was a reaction to the medication in his system.

He left rehab early, Brandy said, because he had been recognized and someone had snuck a phone into the facility. Roy was nervous about word of his stint in rehab leaking out.

The struggle to find a purpose

After retirement, in the years before Halladay recaptured some of his joy and passion by coaching his sons' baseball teams, Roy "stopped taking care of himself, inside and out," according to Brandy. His weight rose to over 300 pounds at one point in retirement, then down to 205 at another.

He reentered rehab in January 2015 for the painkiller addiction and was there three months. When he returned home, he began seeing a psychiatrist and was formally diagnosed with ADD, depression and anxiety. 

In retirement, Halladay struggled to find a purpose. 

"He was lost, he didn't know what to do with himself," Brandy said. "Flying was therapeutic."

Doc's days in the air

The circumstances of Halladay's death were documented in a 2018 toxicology report and in a report from the National Transportation Safety Board last month. He had Zolpidem, amphetamine and morphine in his system at the time he crashed his Icon A5 plane into the Gulf of Mexico. According to the NTSB report, Halladay was doing extreme acrobatics when he lost control.

Halladay received his pilot's license in 2013. He had spent much time in the air with his father, Roy II, a pilot, from a young age, and had accrued more than 700 flying hours himself before the crash.

"He was an excellent pilot," Roy II said of his son. "Mechanically, his skills were very good. He kept working for additional ratings."

Yet still, Brandy didn't feel it was totally safe. 

"He was trying to fill this void by buying boats and planes and cars and shoes," she said. "Roy was an adrenaline guy, he was always looking for that rush."

When Roy got his Icon A5, a plane that made him feel like he was flying a fighter jet, "he was so excited, he couldn't control himself," Brandy said.

"My concern was after he got the (Icon A5), he kept talking about how sporty it was, how much of a sports car it was," his father said. "I said be careful with it."

The tragedy

Halladay died 35 days after getting the Icon A5. According to the NTSB report, he frequently flew at low altitudes in shallow water and flew underneath a bridge in Tampa with Brandy on board 12 days before the fatal crash.

On the day of the crash, he and Brandy were supposed to see one of their sons' band perform at a school concert. Roy told Brandy he'd return the Icon A5 to the airport and meet her there. He texted her while she was driving, "I'm so sorry, I should have just gone with you, another wasted day." Instead of flying north to the airport, he had flown west to the Gulf of Mexico where the crash occurred.

"I had so much more in the future I wanted for us and it was hard to know that it was just done," Brandy Halladay said.

"I know in my heart it was an accident. I want to make sure that people understand that he was just a man. Perfect, I hate that word, perfect. I just want him to be Roy. I hope somebody hears our story and says, 'Wow, I'm going to ask for help.'"

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'A Tormented Man:' ESPN's 'Imperfect' examines Roy Halladay's battle with addiction

'A Tormented Man:' ESPN's 'Imperfect' examines Roy Halladay's battle with addiction

Every Phillies fan remembers Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Miami Marlins that took place 10 years ago today.

The image of Doc embracing Carlos Ruiz is crystal clear in all of our minds. It’s how many fans remember Roy.

What’s not as clear — something we’ve all heard rumblings about — is Halladay’s battle with addiction after walking away from the game of baseball.

That battle will be on full display this evening when Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story airs as an E:60 Special on ESPN at 7:00 pm.

The one-hour program dives deep into the battle Halladay fought with addiction by speaking to those closest to him. Roy’s widow Brandy shares honest and hard details about her husband’s dependence on pain medications throughout his life, including during his playing days in Philadelphia.

The special shares that at the end of the 2013 season Halladay checked in to a drug rehabilitation center in Florida to treat his opioid addiction. Brandy speaks about her memories of that experience and the shame that contributed to it not proving successful for her husband. Roy entered rehab for a second time in 2015 that lasted three months, according to a trailer for the series.

Brandy shares that Roy was formally diagnosed with ADD, depression and anxiety.

“Everyone sees him as this very strong, dominant person, but he was terrified. He was terrified that people wouldn’t think he was good enough. He didn’t want to let anybody down. He, for whatever reason, didn’t feel that he had the luxury of making mistakes. He was tormented. He truly was. He was a tormented man,” Brandy said.

In addition to Roy’s son Braden and baseball great Alex Rodriguez, the special features former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee and teammate Kyle Kendrick. The special spans Roy’s early days in baseball through his peaks with the Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies, as well as the tragic plane crash that took his life and how those who loved him attempt to come to terms with the loss.

“For Brandy, reliving her husband's tragic last years has been painful but, by her own admission, necessary as she strives to contextualize her late husband's drug use and struggles with mental health. She wants people to know: There was more to her husband than what haunted him,” the special’s creators wrote.

“Everybody should be able to ask for help and they should not be judged and looked down on for that,” Brandy said.

The one-hour special airs tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN. You can watch the trailer for it below.

Brandy Halladay releases statement after NTSB report about Roy Halladay's death

Brandy Halladay releases statement after NTSB report about Roy Halladay's death

Brandy Halladay, the widow of former Phillies great Roy Halladay, released a statement Wednesday afternoon in response to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board this week which detailed the chemicals in her husband's system at the time of his death and his mindstate toward the end of his life.

"Yesterday's NTSB report on Roy's accident was painful for our family, as it has caused us to relive the worst day of our lives," Brandy Halladay wrote in a statement distributed by the Phillies. "It has reinforced what I have previously stated, that no one is perfect. Most families struggle in some capacity and ours was no exception. We respectfully ask that you not make assumptions or pass judgment. Rather, we encourage you to hug your loved ones and appreciate having them in your lives. As a family, we ask that you allow Roy to rest in peace."

Roy Halladay's father, Harry Leroy Halladay Jr., told the NTSB that he was "concerned that Roy was abusing prescription medications, and that may have played a role in the accident." The autopsy report, which became public in 2018, shows that Halladay had evidence of amphetamine, morphine and an insomnia drug in his system when his personal plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 7, 2017.

Per the NTSB report, Halladay's father said that "Roy was suffering from anxiety and depression and believes much of [Roy's] stress was due to marital problems. He said that Roy had not been himself for several years."

Halladay left behind wife Brandy and his two sons, Braden and Ryan. Halladay was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last summer in his first year on the ballot. Brandy touched on his personal struggles during her speech in Cooperstown last summer. 

"I think that Roy would want everyone to know that people are not perfect," Brandy said in the Hall of Fame speech. "We are all imperfect and flawed in one way or another. We all struggle, but with hard work, humility and dedication, imperfect people can still have perfect moments. Roy was blessed in his life and in his career to have some perfect moments, but I believe that they were only possible because of the man he strived to be, the teammate that he was and the people that he was so blessed to be on the field with."

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