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DeLaHoyaMediaDayVsPacquiao_Hogan_21It won't be an easy road for Oscar De La Hoya when he leaves the safe harbor of rehab for the “real world.” Temptation will beckon, and he will need a thick skin to shrug off the accusatory stares and glares of doubters and haters. People will be watching him with an extra measure of intensity, checking to see if he's behaving himself.

I found myself watching Oscar with extra intensity last week, when “Access Hollywood” ran a repeat, which featured Oscar making tequila drinks. (My wife, by the way, is an “Access” fan, so this is how and why I saw this episode, which ran right before Cinco de Mayo, May 5. Not that I should really need to explain this viewing choice, but…LOL)

I admit, a couple things I saw, and heard Oscar say, resonated with me much more deeply now, after learning on May 21 that De La Hoya had entered a facility to get a hold on his substance abuse patterns.

Oscar made drinks with hosts Billy Bush and Kit Hoover. He floundered a bit, losing his train of thought a few times. That's understandable, on a live shot.

But a few references to drinking in the morning had me cringing. “Cinco de Mayo, you want tequila, you want a little pick me upper in the morning,” he joked.

Hoover then complimented his looks, and asked him if he was still training. “No training, just tequila,”  he said, drawing laughs in the studio.

The gang made another variety, a lo cal version, and Oscar said, “Low calories, you can have a little in the morning, and work out.”

Again, nothing there would've really set tongues wagging at the time, but in retrospect….

On surface, judging by what we can read on Twitter, it seems like Oscar is enjoying some success in this battle. “Today I had one of the most beautiful days of my life. I am doing amazingly well and growing stronger than ever,” he told followers on June 11. “I really feel blessed.” The next day, he wrote, “Thank you to all who have supported me all these years. I know when all said and done we will grow and be stronger than ever together.” Yesterday, he shared, “Just for today: I don't have to be controlled by my past. I will live this new day as the new person I am becoming.”

I will admit up front that I will now root for Oscar like never before. Anyone putting themselves out there, publicly fighting this battle, deserves our respect. And what can the rest of us take away from Oscar's rehab stint? We can comprehend that money doesn't make the man, that fame doesn't solve all problems, and that substance abuse issues can and does touch us all. And that if someone who “has everything” can admit he has a problem, and seek help, and risk public humiliation, then anyone can take the plunge, and start a new chapter of their life, drink and drug free.

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