Ben Cousins has opened up about his road to redemption, after a staggering spiral and fall from grace in the years after his AFL career ended. The former West Coast Eagles captain attended the Brownlow Medal ceremony on Monday night with sister Melanie - the first time he'd been at a Brownlow in Melbourne since 2005.
He attended the 2021 ceremony in Perth, but Monday night's appearance was his first in Melbourne since he won the Brownlow 18 years ago. Cousins looked happy and healthy as he continues to get his life back on track after a well-documented battle with drug addiction that saw him spend time in jail.
'DISRESPECTED HIM': Buddy Franklin in sad AFL grand final decision
He recently got a job reading the morning sport headlines on Channel 7 in Perth, and was interviewed on Sunrise on Friday morning in Melbourne ahead of the AFL grand final. “Tell us how you are going," Nat Barr asked the 45-year-old.
Cousins said: “Yeah, really well actually. Life’s good. And super stoked to be in Melbourne. I really enjoyed my time here, but particularly grand final week. It’s an amazing time of the year.”
Barr then asked: “Are you well? Because we have obviously seen lots about you. I know you don’t want to get into it. People have been worried about you.”
Cousins then opened up, saying: "It’s been a long road, it really has. I wish it hadn’t needed to run its course like it did, but life’s great at the moment.
"When you strip everything back and assess your life, for anybody, it really is in its simplest form, goes back to what makes you happy and for a long time I wasn’t. But, you know, I very much am these days.” Barr added: “As a fellow Western Australian particularly, I know your friends, your family and a lot of fans here today are glad to hear that.”
Ben Cousins turning life around after fall from grace
At the height of his career, Cousins was one of the top midfielders in the AFL and played a crucial role in West Coast's premiership triumph in 2006. He played 238 games for the Eagles, but off-field troubles saw him lose the captaincy in early 2006 and he was sacked by the club after the 2007 season. He returned to the AFL in 2009 and played 32 games for Richmond before he retired at the end of 2010.
His life then spiralled out of control as he battled drug addiction, and Cousins went to prison after being convicted of stalking his ex-partner. “I’m somebody that hasn’t been given a second chance. I’ve been given a third, fourth and fifth for whatever reason. But that’s what it’s taken," Cousins told The Australian on Monday ahead of his Brownlow attendance. “I want to make sure that other people in that sort of position are going to get the same understanding I do and the same help along the way I did."
Speaking about his new job on Channel 7 he said: "I know I’m starting from a long way back but I needed to feel like I was making a contribution. Once I was released (from prison), I wasn’t quite at the stage where I felt I was in a position to get back into full-time work, so I connected with a community football club, just training a couple times a week over the summer...It was football for me that was a constant. I enjoy having a kick and it was that which got me back involved in the community. It played a really important part in my recovery.”
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.