Jake the Snake.
Not Kenny ( The Snake )
The resurrection of Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
In the tiny second-floor bedroom, there's a pile of Jake "The Snake" Roberts action figures on a table, plastic muscles ripped and bulging, snarls on tiny faces. Above them, on the wall, are signed comic-book-style cartoons of Jake The Snake fighting atop the Empire State Building and deep in the heart of the jungle. All around the room are photographs of Jake The Snake wrestling in some of the world's largest arenas against fellow iconic wrestlers.
It'd be a hell of a tribute to the man, were it not for Jake the Snake himself writhing in the bed in the center of the room.
It's a summer morning outside Atlanta. Jake Roberts, unshaven, his long hair matted, is lying in the bed, devastated, alone. He'd been clean and sober for eight months, drying out and cleaning out and trying to resurrect his life and his career. But he's just fallen.
Two airline bottles of vodka. That's all it was; that's all it took. Two tiny bottles, boom boom, downed in a parking lot. He drank to blot out the image of an old friend who'd fallen on hard times, the same way he used to drink to blot out the thought of his own fallen image.
And now that he's stumbled back into one bad habit, every seductive, self-loathing instinct in his body is telling him to get back in touch with another: when life gets hard, pack your [stuff] and run.
But on this morning, he doesn't run. He stays. He's got a control over his body and his mind now that he didn't have even eight months ago. He's hating himself for falling – "It was like hitting me in the head with a ball-peen hammer," he says – but he's getting back up to face what he's done. He's got friends now, people pulling harder for him to win now than they ever did back in the ring.
And in a twist so perfect it almost seems like it's scripted, the guy now tasked with helping Roberts save himself is the same guy Roberts once hoisted to wrestling stardom: Diamond Dallas Page.
This is Page's house, and with Page's guidance, Roberts might just be on the way to a peace that's eluded him for six decades.
This, then, is a story of fame and fortune, addiction and recovery, snakes and yoga. It's what happens when lives go off-script, for better and for worse.
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