Former Detroit Red Wing Bob Probert is passed out on a couch, wrapped in a blanket, a man struggling with addiction, as his children come down the stairs.
“Good morning!” Dani Probert, his wife, says sweetly to the children. “Merry Christmas!”
The kids bounce around the Christmas tree and look at the presents. As the children approach their father, once named the greatest enforcer in the NHL, Dani says in the background: “I wouldn’t get too close.”
It is painful to watch — a raw, honest look at a man with flaws and demons, who had bounced in and out of rehab centers. Probert rolls on his side and looks totally out of it, his eyes closed, as his kids celebrate Christmas.
The heart-breaking scene was captured in a home movie that is included in a new documentary, “Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story,” which will premier in his hometown, Windsor, Ontario, on Dec.13 (it is sold out).
Later in the movie, Dani reads a note that Probert wrote to his disease, listing off things he missed while consumed by drugs and alcohol, and he mentions that Christmas morning.
“Dear disease,” Probert wrote on a yellow sheet of paper. “You have taken away valuable time from my wonderful wife Dani and my four kids. You have taken away my self-respect and dignity. You have turned me into someone that I am not. You have hurt me financially. You have controlled my thoughts and my feelings. You took me away from things I used to do to have fun… You took away my twins’ birthday, you took away from me Christmas, 2002. You took a lot from me, but that is about to stop, to change.”
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