Once a health nut who pleaded with his mother to give up cigarettes, Donie began smoking. His parents, who live in Houston, would call Scott in Miami and beg him to seek help. "I would say, 'So how you doing?' and there would just be silence," says Judy.
Donie thumbed through a book on mental illnesses and realized he was reading about himself. "I went down the list: obsessive-compulsive behavior, manic depression, you name it," he says. "I was pretty screwed up. I think I had a number of nervous breakdowns."
While the newspaper accounts of his withdrawal in San Antonio had left the impression that he was suicidal, Donie says he never considered ending his life. "Reporters can be pretty insensitive," he says. "I mean, I actually had one guy say, 'If you did decide to kill yourself, how would you do it?' So I went along with him and said, 'Oh, I'd probably see how many flips I could do off a bridge.' "
The suggestion that he had considered ending his life led to an invitation to address the American Suicide Foundation in 1993. In his speech he mentioned his desire to teach children, and the next day he got a call informing him that there was an opening for a part-time teaching assistant at the McGlannan School in Miami. Donie got the job in the fall of '93, teaching first- and second-graders with learning disabilities, and he is still at the private school, putting in two hours a day between workouts. As much as anything, he says, his students set him on his path back to the Olympics.
"I know it sounds corny, but those kids let me help them," he says. "And when you help someone, you help yourself. These kids helped me feel good about myself. They made me realize how lucky I am."
Soon after taking the job, Donie gave up smoking and made up his mind to get back into shape and return to the diving board. He competed off the platform in one meet in 1995 but withdrew after the preliminaries. He just doesn't need the pressure anymore.
Donie hopes to take a medal home from Atlanta, but he insists success isn't the only thing that matters now. When he climbs out of the pool, win or lose, his friends and family will still be there. There may not be a parade, but the kids at the McGlannan School will be cheering for him. This time, that's enough.
As Donie returned to his hotel after midnight last Friday, following his victory in the trials, a contingent of friends and family was waiting in an adjacent restaurant. There were more than 40 of them, many wearing T-shirts that said SCOTT on the front and SOLID on the back. "This is what it's all about," said Donie, sitting in the middle of the party. "It's not about winning medals or making money or any of that. It's about enjoying the moment. I promise you: This time I won't forget that."