SOBR Sports league helps those battling addiction

- This looks like an ordinary basketball game. And it is.  With the exception of the reason these particular players are hitting the hardwood.

"There's going to be a sober environment with sober people," said 26-year old Jimmy McDonald. He’s a player and part founder of the SOBR Sports League.

The teams are made up of people like Jimmy who are in recovery from drugs and other substance abuse disorders.

"I started experimenting with opiates like Percocet and pills and then it led me too heroin and then on a downward spiral," said MacDonald.  He says the SOBR Sports League helps encourage him and others on their continuous path to recovery.  They played a basketball game Sunday at Camden County College but they plan to expand to other sports.

"People you can connect with if you're struggling. If you feel like drinking or getting high that person next to you on first base can help you out of it," said MacDonald.

Stephen Smarrito is Co-Founder of the league. He says, “This is ground zero for the heroin epidemic in America. This is where the purest heroin is in the country and people are dying left and right."

Smarrito and MacDonald both work at Humble Beginnings. It’s an outpatient drug treatment facility with offices in Cherry Hill and Willow Grove.  Their relationship here blossomed into the idea to form the SOBR League to change how many people view recovery.

"My view of recovery used to be going to meetings, Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and AIDS but when we take a twist with sports it tears down a lot of walls as far as what it looks like in recovery. We can have fun,  go bowling or go to the diner maybe after a meeting," said Smarrito.

Justin Wroblewski also works for Humble Beginnings.  He helps those struggling with addiction in their family find resources.  Wroblewski says he was a varsity athlete turned heroin addict at the age of 17.   He’s now sober and says the SOBR League is his inspiration.       

"Recovery is much more than just having to staying sober and not having fun you can still live and enjoy your life and have fun," said Wroblewski.

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