In his just-released book, "Breaking Free," University of Georgia football great Herschel Walker describes his lifelong battle with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
The book is largely the retelling of an athlete's struggles and successes and his now-clearer perspective, at age 46, of his days in the limelight — and also of coming to grips with the spotlight fading.
One passage late in the book recounts a time in the early 1990s when Walker had what he calls "a fascination with death for a while."
Walker, however, notes that he wasn't suicidal or trying to kill himself.
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"I just looked at mortality as the ultimate challenge," he writes. "Everybody is going to die."
In recent days in advance of his book's debut, Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner who played pro football for a decade and a half in the 1980s and 1990s, has made national news for having played Russian roulette with a handgun in the early '90s.
In a chapter titled "Growing Pains," the Wrightsville native and 1980 Johnson County High School valedictorian writes:
I sat at the table, with the gun in my hand turning it over and over. ... I opened the chamber and slid a single round into it. I flipped it back shut and then spun it, like I'd see guys do hundreds of times on television. ... I could hear the voice in my head telling me to go ahead and try it. ... I'd beaten most things in my life. ... What would it be like to beat death?
Walker goes on to mention how his football career, then with the Minnesota Vikings, "wasn't very satisfying at all. ... I felt like a horse with a halter placed on him and a jockey whose instructions were to not let him run free."
Walker writes of sitting in a darkened room, his TV on, and how "I must have raised the gun to my temple, because I can remember feeling the coldness of the metal and the gentle pressure and my pulse pushing against the thing that could end my life. ... Before I could really register in my mind what my finger had done and my ears had heard, the click went off.
"It was a lot louder than I expected. ... Then I experienced kind of a thrill, an evil kind of thrill. ... I didn't feel any relief, just a kind of warmth, a purely physiological sensation of heat, cascading down my body. ... Before that sensation wore off, I spun the cylinder again, put the barrel to my mouth this time, tasted the oil and the steel on my lips, and pulled the trigger again."