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Kyle Draper: Kings Play-by-Play Man Marks 7 Years of Sobriety

Kyle Draper

Kyle Draper: Kings Play-by-Play Man Marks 7 Years of Sobriety

Unlike most sobering stories, there was no bottoming-out milestone. No DUI or public firing or cheating on his wife. Sac Kings play-by-play man Kyle Draper was simply tired of coming home smelling like booze every night. A doctor’s informing him that he was prediabetic didn’t hurt. Nor did a therapist’s encouragement. And eventually, “days became weeks, and weeks became years.”

So says The Athletic’s Jason Jones, from whom we got these here goods.

Draper stopped drinking on March 9, 2017, writes Jones, “and there was immediate uneasiness. One of the reasons Draper said he drank was because of social anxiety, not wanting to be the person in the group who didn’t participate.

“Would I fit in anymore?” Draper asked. “Will I still have my friends? Will my
coworkers still want to hang out with me?”

Draper immediately discovered that some of his friends weren’t friends after all, and that alcohol eliminated the one thing they had in common. The invites to hang-out dwindled too.

But some showed support, including national NBA writer Gary Washburn, a reporter with The Boston Globe.

“It really wasn’t my business, but I admired and supported him,” Washburn said. “It’s something I have respect and admiration for.”

Washburn and Draper go back to when Kyle was working with NBC Sports Boston. In fact, it was there when Draper decided to pull the plug on alcohol. And not a moment too soon.

All in the Family

According to Jones, alcoholism and addiction have been part of Draper’s family for years. His brother, Ronald, died at 38 in 2006 from complications of heart failure after drug abuse. His sister, Nicole, died at 40 in 2021 from a drug overdose.

Now his daughter is battling the disease. She’s been sober for over a year.

Feeling the pain of addiction so closely is a major reason Draper, 48, is determined to stay sober.

“I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to break the cycle. I can’t fall into the trap,’” he said.

Washburn said hanging out with Draper is not an issue. He even bypasses ordering alcohol when they are out together.

“I have his back and respect his journey,” Washburn said. “I can’t believe it’s been that long.”

Most of all, Draper doesn’t want to let his family down, particularly his parents, and he’s accepting the positives that come with being the kind of person he used to not like.

“I used to always hate hanging out with sober people because sober people would remember everything from the night before,” Draper said. “Now I realize I’m that sober guy.”

Kyle Draper Comes of Age

Draper credits sobriety with his career ascending. His Sacramento Kings play-by-play is sharper than ever. Then again, getting to bed earlier and getting more rest keeps him refreshed. It’s upped his preparation too.

Still, Draper acknowledges there are times when he struggles to fill the void that he used to fill with nights at the bar.

“I have not been able to find something that gives me the high of hanging with the boys in the bars, drinking, laughing,” Draper said. “It’s a challenge, even seven years in.

“It’s hard, as an alcoholic, as an addict. You just keep trying to find something that could replace that high from drinking. I haven’t figured that out yet, to be honest.”

Draper still sees a therapist regularly as part of his overall wellness.

Hitting the seven-year mark hasn’t been easy, but Draper said the longer he’s been sober, the more determined he remains to stay sober.

Even when times are tough, Draper is focused on maintaining his sobriety.

“Millions of times I thought, ‘Man, it would be nice to have a drink.’ I miss a glass of wine, or I miss some Maker’s Mark or whatever it may be,” Draper said. “But I know if I take that one sip or have that one drink, I’ve got to start over from scratch.

“I’m at a point now, seven years in, I’m not going to just throw it all away for one night.”

Gratitude Where Due

Healing Properties wholeheartedly thanks The Athletic’s Jason Jones for penning such a compelling piece; we hope he doesn’t mind our echoing so much of it. We’d also like to thank Kyle Draper for delivering seven years of sober inspiration. His staunch support of sobriety proves it’s not only okay to kick the gin to the curb, but that it’s cool too.

If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse issues, please give us a call. We’d be honored to help point you in the most sobering direction.

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