Former pro wrestler with roots in Ark-La-Tex pins his addiction

Former pro wrestler with roots in Ark-La-Tex pins his addiction
As Sam Houston, Michael Smith wrestled the likes of Ric Flair (clockwise from upper left), Andre the Giant, Rick Steiner and Sting. (Matthew Harris/KSLA News 12)
As Sam Houston, Michael Smith wrestled the likes of Ric Flair (clockwise from upper left), Andre the Giant, Rick Steiner and Sting. (Matthew Harris/KSLA News 12)
"If you have hope, you have something to fight for," said Michael Smith, who now has been sober for 6 1/2 years. (Matthew Harris/KSLA News 12)
"If you have hope, you have something to fight for," said Michael Smith, who now has been sober for 6 1/2 years. (Matthew Harris/KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - From body slams to choke holds, Michael Smith experienced it all, inside the ring and out.

Michael Smith was known as Sam Houston in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), which now is known as the WWE.

He's wrestled legends. "Ric Flair, you got Andre the Giant, Sting, Rick Steiner."

Wrestling for more than 30 years, Smith faced his biggest opponent outside the ring.

"The one thing I couldn't let go of and you can buy it at any 7-11 or convenience store is alcohol."

Smith couldn't put alcoholism down for the count.

"I was drinking anywhere from 1 to 3 fifths a day every day from 1991 all the way up to my incarceration."

He says he's had about 10 DWIs over his lifetime that, ultimately, led to a 10-year prison sentence.

"They take me back to the cell and, because I'm a wrestler, they viewed me as a security risk. So I'm on murderers' row," Smith said.

"I took my bed sheet, made 2 nooses, ran them through the bars," he continued. "And I said, 'God, only you can stop this now.'

"Both nooses broke. Four days after that, that's when I lost my Mom. My Mom passed of liver failure."

Smith said that was the turning point.

He only served half of his 10-year sentence.

"My life has been a series of getting knocked down but getting back up."

Now Smith tell his story to church groups and anyone who will listen in the hopes of paying it forward.

"If you have hope, you have something to fight for," said Smith.

Now with hope and faith in his corner, Smith said he knows he'll never be outmatched again.

"I've been sober 6 1/2 years now."

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