Riley Sheahan: Trying to move on

Updated: January 4, 2013, 7:14 PM ET
By Craig Custance | ESPN The Magazine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Riley Sheahan realizes it could have been worse, so much worse.

The Detroit Red Wings' prospect was arrested in October after being pulled over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. According to reports, he had a blood-alcohol level of .30, which falls under Michigan's tough "super drunk" designation. He was still in his purple Teletubby costume from Halloween at the time of the arrest, which was later captured on police video.

It added up to an embarrassing, life-altering event -- but not a life-ending one.

Sheahan
Sheahan

"That was one of the things that haunts me the most," Sheahan told ESPN The Magazine. "You hear so many of those horrific accidents. I think about it could have been me. It's scary. I'm lucky. Now I can look at everything that happened and move on from it. Maybe live my life a little fuller."

Sheahan is speaking with the media this week for the first time since the incident in hopes that it adds closure to what's been a dark chapter in his life. But he has no intention of hiding from that night.

Aside from continuing his career with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins with hopes of joining the Red Wings if the NHL lockout ends, he plans on reaching out to speak to other young athletes to provide a cautionary tale.

"It's so easy to say, 'Don't drink and drive.' So many kids will be in that position and think they'll be OK," Sheahan said. "Just have the keys, 'It's a short little drive.' They think it's fine. But what you could go through, the possibilities of hurting somebody ... that's something I could tell younger athletes."

Sheahan, 21, said he hasn't had any alcohol since the incident, although he hasn't ruled easing it back into his life at some point. He's focused on taking advantage of the second chance given to him by the Red Wings organization and forgiving hockey fans.

He hopes the incident doesn't define him. He's playing some of his best hockey of the season right now, and the 6-foot-2, 2010 first-round pick is the kind of big body Red Wings coach Mike Babcock appreciates up front.

It's a long road to erase the memory of an embarrassing and potentially dangerous incident, but he's starting it.

"You read an article like that, and the first thing that comes to mind is, 'That kid is an idiot,'" Sheahan said. "That's something I brought on myself and that's something I'm going to have to prove to everyone -- I can be a good person and not make those kinds of decisions."

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