Former Vol Erik Ainge arrested on DUI charges

Former Vol Erik Ainge arrested on DUI charges

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Erik Ainge (Source: Knoxville Police Department) Erik Ainge (Source: Knoxville Police Department)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Radio host and former UT football player Erik Ainge was arrested early Sunday morning on DUI charges.

A Knoxville police officer noticed a GMC Sierra swerving in and out of traffic on I-40 West near the West Hills exit around 1:15 a.m.. The officer stopped the car.

Ainge failed field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI, implied consent, and roadway lane violation, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk.

The arresting officer reported that Ainge had dilated pupils and slurred speech. Ainge also performed poorly on a sobriety field test.

At the time of his arrest, Ainge refused to submit to a blood test under the implied consent law.

Ainge was released at 5:21 a.m. on a $500 bond, according to Knox County Sheriff's Department.

Ainge's battles with drug use and a bipolar mood disorder were previously detailed in a March 2011 interview at espn.com. Ainge told the website, in his words, that his addiction is with "the hardest of hard drugs-- heroin, cocaine and alcohol."

Ainge in 2011: "The problem was Erik"

During a May 2011 interview with 6 Sports, Ainge said his painkiller addiction started during his senior season at Tennessee, the result of an injury to the little finger on his throwing hand.

Ainge played as a quarterback for the Volunteers from 2004 until 2007.

"The problem definitely went much further than anyone at Tennessee'" said Ainge. "The only thing Tennessee did was write me the few prescriptions for the first month or two, not even."

"They prescribed me the medication like they would for anybody else, and a week-long prescription, it would last me a day. The problem was Erik, not the doctors. I am the one that is ultimately responsible for my drug use, not anybody else."

"I would have to find other ways to satisfy my drug use. I would go other places. I would use drug dealers. I would use people that were fans of mine. They would have medication and just give it to me."

Ainge was selected by the New York Jets in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft. He said his drug problem got worse when he turned professional.

"I used to get $22,000 game checks and I used to not even deposit them in the bank," Ainge said. "I would just cash them and keep the money on me. And I would just buy drugs with it and then I would keep what I didn't spend on me."

Ainge was suspended by the NFL for a violation of their drug policy in 2009. He entered rehab in 2009, was clean for a while, but then relapsed with alcohol. He went into rehab again in 2010.

Ainge never returned to the NFL.

"I got to rehab, I was regretting my decision, like everybody does. But if you stick it out, after I had been there for two weeks, I was happy, like, this is ok."

"That's all that matters for a long time when you're trying to get clean. If you stay clean for 24 hours, it's a success. And I was a bad enough drug addict that that's all that mattered. If I didn't get high that day, that's all that mattered."

Ainge response

Ainge tells 6 News he is innocent and that he hired Marcos Garza as his attorney.

The former UT football player insists he has been sober since July 17, 2010, saying that has not changed.


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