Cardinals great Luis Sharpe had a lifelong battle with drugs

(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Luis Sharpe
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Luis Sharpe /

Offensive tackle Luis Sharpe’s fantastic career with the Arizona Cardinals franchise was marred by his crack cocaine addiction.

In the 102-year history of the Arizona Cardinals franchise, there was one left tackle in particular who stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Back in 1982, when the team made its home in St. Louis, the Cards selected the great Luis Sharpe with the 16th-overall pick of the draft. The Cuban-born offensive lineman would go on to enjoy a magnificent stay in the NFL, a career that would last for an impressive 13 campaigns.

Sharpe was credited with 189 starts for the Cardinals, an amazing total that is far more than any other member of the organization ever registered at left tackle. There would be three Pro Bowl appearances for Sharpe and a Second-team All-Pro nomination following the 1990 season as well.

In 1992, 10 years after he joined the Redbirds, some unflattering news was reported about one of the squad’s most respected leaders. A newspaper article that ran in the Mesa Tribune had linked Sharpe to an indicted drug dealer. The story revealed that the veteran Cardinal had purchased crack cocaine from the shady individual.

Former Arizona Cardinals teammates attempt to help their troubled friend

By the time the year 1995 rolled around, Sharpe was no longer playing professional football and had developed a full-blown crack addiction. His habit had caused him to become estranged from his wife and kids, and he was staying at a hotel in Tempe. Cards defensive tackle Eric Swann visited Sharpe and offered him help, but he was turned away by his former teammate.

In November of 1995, former Cardinals wide receiver Roy Green and another friend basically kidnapped Sharpe and drove him straight to the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, California. After just a couple of days, Sharpe walked out and took an extremely expensive taxi cab ride back to Phoenix.

Obviously, Sharpe wasn’t ready to put down the crackpipe. During a 1996 interview with the Phoenix New Times, the UCLA graduate revealed how pathetic his once-charmed life had become.

"“I wasn’t ready to be talked to by anybody. I just wanted to find me a crackhead woman, check-in at some fleabag joint, smoke some crack, watch some porno and get after it”."

Sharpe has been convicted nine times for felonies related to his drug problem. He was also shot on two separate occasions while attempting to purchase the illegal substance.

Tragedy struck Sharpe back in 2007 when his daughter Leah was found shot to death in Phoenix. The 23-year-old woman had been released from prison earlier in the year after serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence on drug and theft charges.

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The 61-year-old Sharpe is now a preacher who lives in Detroit, Michigan. Word has it that the former Cards blocker has been clean for over five years. Here’s hoping that the demons that tortured Sharpe for far too long are now gone forever.