The risk-taking side of Adam that came across in his standing up to those taller boys also came out in other ways. Ever the daredevil, he would jump out of trees and do belly flops into shallow water. He generally escaped unscathed, until he took a risk with something he couldn’t control: crack cocaine.
Eric said, “Adam first started failing when he went off to college where he had no friends. All of his good buddies had gone somewhere else and he’d always been this team player. He was big on the football team, he had that community in his high school [in] Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was a little bit of his identity, his moral compass, if you will. When that was gone, that was when he started going down the wrong path.”
Adam got involved with a group of friends and a girl he was trying to impress. They encouraged him to use crack for the first time – and then, the drug owned him.
Eric explained, “Anyone who has any experience with family members that fought that addiction, they realize that drug changes a chemical balance in your brain so you will crave it for the rest of your life…Many never overcome it.”
Adam started stealing from his family in order to buy more drugs, including meth. The good kid from Hot Springs wound up a criminal with eleven felonies. He even stole a hand gun at one point.
His parents, Larry and Janice, who at first didn’t know about this side of Adam, were devastated when it came to light. They wanted to help, but had no choice other than to watch him hit rock bottom.
Though Janice had never gone to church and Larry hadn’t attended in 30 years, Adam’s troubles led them to join a local church and put Adam in God’s hands. Spiritual support from the pastor and prayer community helped the Browns take a “tough love” approach with their son: they had him arrested and he went to jail.
That’s when Adam’s life began its turnaround as well because he found God there and started reading the Bible.
Eric said, “When Adam was recovering [and back from rehab], he would go into church with his parents give his testimony to the congregation. He told these people who had all been praying for him that their prayers had been important, that he’d felt them, that he’d felt that sense of community. Because at the end of the day, you’re very alone in that situation…Knowing that people are rooting for you was so important.”
The person who was there for Adam the most, though, was his wife, Kelley. Adam’s parents called her “an angel” and his friends were astonished that she stuck by him through all his relapses into drug abuse.
Eric said, “She would go and find him in crack houses and bring him back, put him back on his feet, and say, ‘You are better than this.’ We’re talking years of putting up with this type of repeated behavior. She said she would pray to God, if she should stay with this guy or leave him, and she said she never felt in her heart that she should leave Adam. She knew that what was inside, his spirit, was something special. She was a humble warrior herself because she did stand by his side. She ultimately inspired him to try for the Navy. That would be his second chance at life, which was a miracle in and of itself, that he was even given the opportunity to join the Navy.”
Becoming a father to his children, Nathan and Savannah, was also one of the joys of Adam’s life. They gave him something special to live for, a responsibility greater than himself. He made sure to coach Little League and teach Sunday School whenever he was home from deployment.
Though Eric only came to know Adam through conversations with his family and friends, the author notes the Navy SEAL’s influence on his own life and relationship with his kids. Eric said, “I realized how important it is to give of yourself, and Adam reminded me of that. For the first time, I started to coach Little League. And I’ve been coaching it for a second season. I also hadn’t opened a Bible in 25 years, and I had my own reservations about religion. Adam helped remind me a about the power of faith and the good in religion, not just the negatives that some people associate with it. He really was an example of all that’s right about a strong faith.”
Read the whole thing and ask again, where do we get such men?