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Heroin addiction. Suicide. Transgender issues. These “hot button” topics can be controversial and polarizing, but what about the people who actually deal with them? What are their stories? “Under the Label” is an occasional series by the staff of the Observer-Reporter that is intended to take a look at the human side of these issues.

Former Washington boxer Troy Moore shares story of addiction, recovery

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Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter
Troy Moore, left, spars with Josh Edwards at Mark Shrader’s Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Washington in August.
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Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter
Troy Moore earned several certifications for completing programs such as adavance automotive technology, hospice care and many more while serving time in the Fayette County Jail. Order a Print
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Troy Moore at a 1989 amateur boxing match. Moore beat Harry Allot of Canonsburg in the fight.
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Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter
Troy Moore unloads cable from a truck and onto his forklift at D&M Painting Corp. in Amity. Order a Print
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Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter
Troy Moore gives a student a few tips on his punching technique at Mark Shrader’s Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Washington. Order a Print
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Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter
Troy Moore spars at Mark Shrader’s Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Washington. Order a Print

As a young man, he appeared in the newspaper for his prowess in the boxing ring. A few years later, his name appeared in the police beat for multiple arrests.

Released from prison in May, Troy Moore, 48, is happy to make headlines again, sharing his story of drug addiction, crime and incarceration to inspire others.

“People act like they don’t have a chance. That’s bull crap. It’s possible to change. It’s possible to succeed,” said Moore. “I was the worst addict in Washington. I was an egotistical, self-centered addict who didn’t care about anyone but myself. When you get high, you’re hiding in the closet. But if you want it, there’s nothing in this world to make you want to use drugs again.”

In the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, Moore trained rigorously at the Brownson House, spending hours working on jabs, hooks and uppercuts.

Macaque in the trees
Troy Moore earned several certifications for completing programs such as adavance automotive technology, hospice care and many more while serving time in the Fayette County Jail.
Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

“All I ever wanted to do was be an athlete,” he said. “My goal was to turn pro.”

But the boxer started to slip. Reeling from the death of a friend and breaking up with his girlfriend, he tried cocaine for the first time.

“I started getting high to stay numb,” said Moore. “I was afraid of failing.”

Boxing took a backseat as Moore worked to feed his addiction. His life revolved around using and getting money to use.

“I didn’t care,” said Moore. “All I cared about was staying numb and not feeling.”

For years, he ran the streets and alleys of Washington, hanging with the same crowd in the same places. Tired of the cycle of crime and drugs and searching for a way out, Moore headed south, hoping a different environment would help him escape.

“We have many victims – my kids, my mom, uncles, family. We don’t realize as addicts who we hurt. ”

- Troy Moore

“In recovery, they teach ‘new people, new places, new things.’ I did everything – I left – to get away from drugs,” he said. “But nothing’s going to change unless you change you.”

In 2001, Moore was convicted of robbery and sent to a Florida prison. When he was released, he returned to the Washington area – and soon picked up right where he left off.

Arrested for stealing by knife and gunpoint in 2011, Moore pleaded guilty to robbery and theft. He was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

It was then, sitting in prison, faced with the minutes, days, months and years behind bars, that something clicked.

“It wasn’t anybody but me. It wasn’t nobody’s fault but my own,” he said.

Moore owned up to what he had done and vowed to make a change. From then on, he took every opportunity that was given to him. He earned certifications in money management, automotive technology, hospice and business training and forklift operating. In an impact-of-crimes program, in which inmates and their victims can communicate, Moore realized how many lives he disrupted.

“We have many victims – my kids, my mom, uncles, family,” said Moore. “We don’t realize as addicts who we hurt.”

Moore keeps a binder full of certificates of achievement, plus a letter from his daughter, who years ago wrote that she could no longer have a relationship with him unless he turned his life around.

“I’m not going to let her down. I’ve let down too many people in my life,” Moore said.

Working to restore his relationship with his children, Moore set his sights on employment. Not even a week after release from prison, he directed his mother to pull over the car as they approached D&M Painting in Amity. He walked into the business, asked for the manager and laid out his past of drug addiction and incarceration.

“I said, ‘I just need a chance,’” he recalled.

Owner Mike Makripodis and administrator Stephanie Holland gave it to him.

Macaque in the trees
Troy Moore unloads cable from a truck and onto his forklift at D&M Painting Corp. in Amity.
Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

“He’s doing really well here. Hasn’t missed a day since he started and will drop whatever he’s doing to help,” said Holland. “We kind of call him our class clown. He’s always saying something funny. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth.”

Moore, who said he tries to do a good deed and make people laugh every day, attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings and Bible studies hosted by his employer every week. On Mondays, he volunteers at Mark Shrader’s Mixed Martial Arts Academy, teaching students the skills he learned so many years ago.

One day, he hopes to own his own gym, where people can train at no charge. He also wants to go back into jails and prisons to mentor and inspire others.

He relishes taking on a father-figure role to the son of his girlfriend, who is also in recovery.

“My life is so complete now,” he said. “I feel so relieved just to be clean every day.”

On Oct. 9, Moore celebrates six years of sobriety.

“They say, ‘Never say never.’ I’m saying never,” said Moore. “My counselor told me, ‘You don’t need to be perfect, Troy.’ I said, ‘Is there a problem with trying to be?’

“I choose today to stay clean for the rest of my life. I don’t want nothing to do with drugs. There’s so much I want to do.”

Natalie Reid Miller has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2013. A native of Burgettstown, she primarily covers Washington and surrounding communities. Natalie has a writing degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

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