Michael Phelps is once again the cover star of "Sports Illustrated."
But this time, instead of a victory pose or a photo of the Olympian swimming, the sports magazine depicts the Baltimore native as a changed man, but also as a man who had — under the weight of fame, scrutiny and a publicized arrest — once lost the will to live.
Titled "The Rehabilitation of Michael Phelps," the story — written by Tim Layden for the Nov. 16 issue — features a cover shot of the 30-year-old staring directly at the camera against a white backdrop. Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, sports a flowing beard and a white v-neck T-shirt.
The quotes on the cover set the piece's tone:
"I was in a really dark place. Not wanting to be alive anymore."
"I look back now. I lived in a bubble for a long time."
The story is a deep dive on Phelps: From success (the gold medals, endorsements and money) to excess (pitfalls of fame, pleading guilty to a 2014 drunk-driving charge) to the problems that only seemed to get more complicated the more famous he became (strained relationships with family and friends).
It also looks at Phelps' rehab time at The Meadows, an in-patient facility in Arizona where he received treatment for alcohol abuse, and concludes with Phelps promising the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be his last.
Read the full story here.