Backstreet Boy AJ McLean Taking Action in Wake of Mac Miller’s Death & Own Addiction Battle (Exclusive)
By Leena Tailor
Harmony Gerber/Getty Images
Backstreet Boys singer AJ McLean is sharing how his two young daughters continue to motivate him to stay sober and reveals that he is helping launch a new product to assist addicts overcome their struggles. The news comes in the wake of rapper Mac Miller’s death and McLean’s own years-long efforts to stay sober.
Miller, 26, was found dead at his San Fernando Valley home on Friday. According to TMZ, authorities believe he died of an apparent overdose.
“I met him a couple of times at radio shows and he was a stand-up guy,” McLean told ET at the Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation celebrity poker tournament at the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday. “You would never know that he had a problem -- but a lot of people had no idea that I had a problem. Addicts can hide it pretty well, so all my condolences go to his family and friends. He’s another one gone too soon.”
Spurred by such tragic losses and his own recovery, McLean, 40, is now getting behind a new line of products aiming to help others struggling with addiction. His focus is on opioids, which have led to 170,000 deaths since 2013, according to CBS News.
“With what recently happened with Mac Miller, people need to really understand how serious addiction is,” he said. “It’s a huge killer and you’ve just got to surround yourself with the right people, go to your meetings and get a sponsor. It’s a marathon, not a race. I’m getting involved with a pharmaceutical company that is going to be putting out some amazing products. One is an at-home opioid detox kit, non-narcotic because one of the biggest [causes of] deaths in the entire world right now is based on opioids.”
“It’s a global problem and what we’re going to be able to offer is basically an at-home detox kit because people who take opioids, unfortunately, get hooked on other drugs to get off of the opioids,” the musician added. “This will hopefully help addicts get the help they need for a much more affordable price and without having to suffer going to rehab, which is expensive sometimes. We want to avoid them not getting help at all and ending up dead, in jails or in institutions.”
During the height of his own addiction, the Backstreet Boys halted their Black & Blue tour while McLean entered rehab in 2001. In the years since, McLean has openly shared how staying sober remains an ongoing battle, admitting he has resorted to the bottle at times during his recovery. While today he says “life is good, man,” he endeavors to squeeze five Alcoholics Anonymous meetings into his hectic schedule every week.
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Having tied the knot with hairstylist and makeup artist Rochelle in 2011, the Dead 7 star is also a proud dad to two daughters, 5-year-old Ava and 1-year-old Lyric, who have become his greatest motivation to stay healthy. He says it’s Ava and Lyric who have helped him through some of the most testing moments of sobriety.
“Having a family and looking my two girls in the eye every single night and every single morning -- they’re my lifeline,” said McLean, who attended the poker tournament to help raise money for Tower Cancer Research Foundation and support the event’s honorees, Green Day’s Mike Dirnt and his cancer survivor wife, Brittney. “They’re my everything. Them and my wife. So, I would never in a million years want to let them see me drunk or high or dead or in jail. I want to walk both my girls down the aisle … when they’re 35! As long as I can hold off on boys, I’m going to hold off on boys!”
“I’ve been sober now for quite some time and I couldn’t feel any better, honestly,” he continued. “But I do still go to meetings and I have an amazing sponsor. I try to go to meetings five times a week. Last week I only got to go twice, but next week will be five. I try my best.”
“I have been super busy trying to finish off my solo record, and this past week -- I think, hopefully -- we finished the Backstreet Boys record!” he said. “So, we can have it come out in October as planned, then tour around the world next year.”