In October 2014, former ASU football player Trevor Papasodora-Beard mentally prepared himself to die amidst his struggles with addiction and homelessness after being released from the team in January 2013.
Eating only once every three days and sleeping only two to four times a week, Papasodora-Beard was in the middle of a months long addiction to drugs and found himself homeless with no hope.
That is, until he finally hit his lowest point, he decided to reach out to his family for help.
“I was just really ready to die,” Papasodora-Beard said. “I had exhausted all of my friendships there in Phoenix and most of my family had cut me off by that point. The only ones I was in contact with was my mother and a couple of my brothers.”
Back to Football
In January of 2015, his aunt and uncle paid for a truck and helped his immediate family move to Colorado from California, where he was living with his mother and little brother at his grandparents' house.
“We moved up here and while we were driving we passed Colorado State University-Pueblo and I remembered my friend, who I played with at ASU and plays with the Packers now, had transferred there to play football,” he said.
Papasodora-Beard, worried about how many years of eligibility he had left, started making phone calls to figure out his options.
“I figured at most I had one year of eligibility left and I called the NCAA and they told me how the system worked between Division II and Division I football and that gave me a lot of hope,” he said.
Living in Canyon City, Colorado, Papasodora-Beard worked at a kid’s club, but the job wasn’t paying enough. He decided to go look for other work while still deciding whether or not to go back to school.
“I remember sitting at my aunt and uncle’s place and they asked me what I really wanted to do and I told them I really wanted to go back to school and play football,” Papasodora-Beard said. “They told me if I took the steps to make it happen then they would help me anyway they could to make it happen.”
Still not knowing his eligibility status, Papasodora-Beard wasn’t sure if he would be able to step back on the gridiron.
“I was still worried about my eligibility and I sent my transcripts, and they told me I had two years of eligibility left,” he said.
“He explained some of the stories to me and hopefully they are all accurate and he has a chance to put his life back together,” Wristen said.
Football is a team sport and requires a lot of discipline not only on the field but off, Wristen said.
“I think it is the ultimate discipline that you have to have to be able to develop off of the field,” he said. “Not everyone can handle it but when you revert back to being part of something that is bigger than you then you have something that is really special and I hope that happens for Trevor.”
Papasodora-Beard is now on the team as a defensive lineman and said he is happy where he has landed partially due to the winning tradition of Colorado State-Pueblo’s football team.
“One of the things I really liked about the team was they were defending Division II national champions and I really liked that because when I play football I like to consider myself a winner,” he said.
Road to Colorado
Before he made the decision to get help, Papasodora-Beard's darkest days would lead him to living out of his car and losing 70 lbs.
“I ended up staying with somebody who dealt me drugs while I was at ASU and stayed at his house for a while," he said. "I ended up getting pretty into drugs at his house and ended up pretty much strung out on his couch for three or four months.”
Papasodora-Beard said his friend allowed him to stay with him to help him with his business. This lasted from June until the end of October 2014 and led to further addiction to drugs and struggling to find his way.
“I stayed at that kid’s house until about October until he eventually told me I had to leave because I wasn’t getting any better,” he said. “He honestly cared for me as a person and I wasn’t just some guy there to make him money but he saw I wasn’t getting better and asked me to leave.”
Papasodora-Beard then began living in his car until a speeding ticket in Tempe almost caused him to be permanently on the street.
“While I was homeless, I got pulled over speeding in Tempe and they noticed I had no insurance and my plates were invalid because the insurance company had cancelled them,” Papasodora-Beard said. “He told me he would have towed my car if it hadn’t been for me living in it and let me go.”
After the close call with police and not being able to drive his car, Papasodora-Beard said he broke down and called his mother who had been begging him to come live with her for at least a few months.
In October, Papasodora-Beard went to live with his mother, Nancy Papasodora, who lived in California.
“The hardest part was that I felt like Trevor had other options, didn’t accept help from me or his family and chose to be in the situation he was in,” she said.
Papasodora-Beard’s mother said she thinks a lack of immaturity played a role in the situation he had put himself in.
“The one thing I think was his downfall was (that) he was hanging out with peers who were two or three years older than him," she said. "He didn't have the maturity to make good decisions and one of the things that I think happened was he got to his third year of college and couldn’t handle the situation.”
Papasodora said she stood by her son and wanted nothing but the best for him but Papasodora-Beard’s pride took over.
“He’s very independent and very prideful and that is why he got in this situation,” Papasodora said. “I have always been very proud of him and think he is going to do just fine.”
After dedicating himself to staying clean and having no luck finding work, Papasodora-Beard said he found himself stuck without a job and didn’t know what to do.
This was when his aunt and uncle came to help him and his family move to Colorado, which led him to getting back to what he loves to do.
Papasodora-Beard said struggling for over a year with addiction and homelessness has given him a new outlook on life and has helped him appreciate what he has.
“I’ve been losing pretty hard in life for the past couple of years but I do like to win,” he said. “I couldn’t be in a better position and happier than I am now.”
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