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E.J. Junior still remembers the high he got from free-basing cocaine.
"Picture yourself on a roller coaster," says the St. Louis Cardinal linebacker. "Think of the feeling you get in your stomach and multiply that times five. The instant rush knocks most people to their knees. A day doesn't go by that I don't think about that feeling."
Junior, a former Alabama star who was the Cards' No. 1 pick in '81, was convicted of cocaine possession in February 1983, put on three years' probation and suspended for the preseason and first four regular-season games of '83.
"I'm thankful I got arrested," says Junior, 24. "I was killing myself."
In 1983 Junior spent the month of July in therapy at CareUnit in St. Louis, and he worked as a counselor there the first five months of 1984. He's now a drug counselor for the Cards, and he wants to become a doctor who specializes in drug and alcohol treatment.
Junior got an undergraduate degree from Alabama in 1981. He majored in public relations and was only 18 credits short of qualifying for a second major in civil engineering. To prepare himself for medical school he plans to take eight hours each of biology, organic chemistry and anatomy during the next two springs: probably at St. Louis University. He figures he can complete med school in nine years.
"Most doctors get their book learning before they have contact with patients," Junior says. "I've worked backward, as well as from the ground up. Cocaine abusers will be likely to trust me because I was one of them."