Todd Marinovich was born to be a quarterback—he would grow to be 6'4" and a lithe 215 pounds, with a fluid lefthanded throwing motion. He was bred to be one too—his father, Marv, stretching his son's infant hamstrings, teething him on iron-rich frozen liver and then feeding him a strict diet of natural foods and Eastern bloc exercises. The boy nicknamed Robo QB went to USC and became the Raiders' first-round draft pick in 1991. But, as Todd asks in The Marinovich Project, the superbly nuanced ESPN documentary about his rise and fall that premiered in December, "If you're good at something, does that mean you're meant to do it?"
The answer, for Marinovich, is clear. Drug abuse limited his NFL career to two seasons. His football-only upbringing left him unprepared for adult urges, and wasted, arrest-riddled years followed. "Without a doubt balance is the key," he says. "That I didn't really experience that was detrimental."
Now, clean at 42, Marinovich is embracing his true calling. "Art is something that has been a part of me from Day One," he says. A long-stifled part, for certain. Today he makes a living selling his colorful, expressionist paintings and prints at his recently launched website, toddmarinovich.com, including Crown (far left), a self-portrait screaming over a background of newspaper headlines.
Marinovich has two young children with Alix, his wife of three years, and he vows to allow them to find their own passions—in sports, art or anything else. He also has an unlikely artistic collaborator: Marv, against whom he holds no ill will.
Recently Todd traveled to Northern California and acquired five pieces of redwood, each as tall as a man. As they have in the past, father and son will soon get to work, side by side, shaping each trunk into an abstract sculpture. Todd and Marv Marinovich, working as equals, will try to create something beautiful.
THEY SAID IT
"You know, I'm happy I played a sport where you'd make a mistake and the worst thing that could happen to you was love--15."
ESPN broadcaster, on air during the Australian Open, after reading a promo for her network's airing of the Winter X Games.
PORTRAIT OF IMPERFECTION Already crowned a QB king, things had started to unravel for Marinovich at USC in 1990 (above).
PETER READ MILLER (SI COVER)
[See caption above]
JEFF GOLDEN/GETTY IMAGES (SHRIVER)