‘From Prison to the Olympics’: Former BMX pro sharing story at UNK

KEARNEY – In high school, Tony Hoffman was a top-ranked BMX rider with multiple endorsements.

Then drug addiction derailed his career.

The Clovis, California, native will share his story of sports stardom, substance abuse, mental health struggles, homelessness and redemption during an upcoming appearance at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His presentation, “From Prison to the Olympics,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 21 in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

In 2004, Hoffman committed a home invasion armed robbery and was ultimately sentenced to four years in prison. He began rebuilding his life while behind bars.

After he was granted parole in December 2008, Hoffman started living his dream, with addiction behind him. The former BMX pro raced at the highest level for several years before an injury forced him to focus exclusively on coaching. He’s coached world-class athletes from around the world, including Brooke Crain, who finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

As a speaker, Hoffman uses his inspiring story to promote mental health and substance abuse awareness and advocate for a shift in thinking regarding addiction recovery processes. He’s also the founder and director of the Freewheel Project, a nonprofit organization that mentors youths through action sports, and he hopes to open a wellness center to assist people struggling with addiction.

The Kearney event is sponsored by UNK Residence Life, Student Engagement, Student Health and Counseling, Peer Health and Greeks Advocating for Healthy Lifestyles. It’s partially funded by a grant from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and Region 3 Behavioral Health Services.