Lionel Aldridge gained fame as a professional American football player for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s. He holds the distinction of becoming a starter in his rookie year. The gruff Lombardi would not normally install a rookie as a starter. But the 250-pound Aldridge, who was 6 feet 5 inches, found his niche at right defensive end and anchored the position for nine seasons -- including championship campaigns in 1965, 1966 and 1967, when the Packers won three world titles, including the first two Super Bowls. In 1972 he was traded to the San Diego Chargers, where he played an additional two years.
From outward appearances life after football began well, following his retirement from the National Football League in 1973, he became an analyst for the Packers and then for NBC.
He worked Super Bowl VII for the network following the 1973 season. But on the cusp of broadcasting stardom, he suffered the first of many bouts of depression that were to lead him to homelessness and then partial recovery as a speaker on mental health issues. He never completely overcame his difficulties.
In the late 1970's, he began to hallucinate. He had himself hospitalized and variously described his problems as schizophrenia or depression.
After he was divorced from his wife, Mr. Aldridge disappeared from Milwaukee and became a drifter. There were days and months of lucidity when he was helped immensely by his medications.
He became a spokesman for a mental health organization in Milwaukee and traveled widely, discussing problems of the homeless with mental health professionals.
Angela S. Aldridge
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