Talk by former addict leaves sobering impression on La Jolla High School students and parents

By Sharon Jones and Melinda Gaffney

One bad decision. That’s all it takes to ruin your life.

That’s what senior Jimmy LeBeau took away from the theatrical presentation by Scot Anthony Robinson at La Jolla High School last week. The Bird Rock Elementary grad was stunned and moved by Robinson’s talk in ways he never expected.

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Scot Anthony Robinson hugs an attendee at the lecture. (Courtesy Photos)

“It shocked me how quickly drugs took over his life,” said LeBeau, 18.

Another senior, Tyson Youngs, agreed. “It happened so quick,” the 18 year old said. “He needed to be popular, so he got high. And then he needed to get high, so he moved to stronger and stronger drugs.”

Robinson, an actor and former drug addict, spent two days at La Jolla High School last week. He performed for freshman and sophomores one day, then met with them in breakout sessions. The next day he did the same thing with juniors and seniors. That night he spoke to 300-plus people (including 50 middle- schoolers) in Parker Auditorium.

His visit was organized by the Community Education Committee of the La Jolla Cluster Association.

Principal Dana Shelburne said it was the most effective anti-drug program he had ever seen. Afterward, one student came forward to tell administrators that he had a drug problem, and that, because of Robinson’s talk, he wanted to get help.

Robinson’s student performance is carefully crafted. He uses theatrics to get the teens’ attentions. He makes sure they know he wasn’t so different from them. He was a star student. He was from a stable home. He loved his parents. He played Little League.

He talked about feeling like an outsider at school, about being shy around girls, and put down by guys. He described how he wore a “mask” that hid his true personality, his true feelings. He started experi- menting with marijuana when he was 11 because he wanted to be popular, he said. At first, he smoked for the fun of it, but soon he was smoking all the time.

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Myles Dalton-Steinhardt (left), a La Jolla High School senior, said of Scot Anthony Robinson (right): "Though Scot Anthony Robinson had a stroke the week before, he still made the decision to come out here from NYC to share his story with us. What a very strong and passionate example of what a true warrior is. I am very glad he came and opened up with my school here at La Jolla High. I feel that I can pass along these lessons to anyone in need of help if I need to do so down the road."

“They say marijuana is a gateway drug — it opened up the floodgates,” he told the students. “When I was angry, I took a hit. (He pretended to take a puff). When I was lonely, I took a hit (puff). When I was stressed, I took a hit (puff). When I was confused, I took a hit (puff). When I was heart broken, I took a hit (puff). When I listened to music, I took a hit (puff). When I went to the movies, I took a hit (puff). Just because, I took a hit (puff).”

Students laughed.

He continued. “Just because, I took a hit (puff). Just because, I took a hit (puff). Just because, I took a hit (puff).”

The laughter stopped.

He said he smoked all through high school. His parents never even suspected. He kept his grades up.

When he went to college, life’s complications and temptations increased, and he experimented with more alcohol and stronger drugs. After college, he was in a number of Spike Lee and Wesley Snipes films: “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X.” But he also was using heroin, and then cocaine, and then crack cocaine.

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