Get this, though. Even though I was driving around in the stupidest marijuana haze possible, the cops somehow managed to lose me. Maybe that says something about all of the times the police didn't catch me when I was doing something illegal. After they got separated from my Mercedes, they pulled their squad car off the road and two officers ran into a Ralph's grocery store, looking for any sign of me.

They happened to stop a lady who knew my mother.

"Have you seen Todd Bridges in here?" they asked her, thinking she'd be able to recognize me from TV, not knowing she was a family friend.

"No," she said. "He hasn't been here."

After checking the store, the officers jumped back into their squad car and drove away. As soon as they were out of sight, that lady ran to a pay phone and called my mom.

"They're looking for your son," she told my mom.

My mom wasn't at all surprised to receive a call like that. She'd prayed, and cried. She'd come to family therapy sessions when I was in rehab. She'd bailed me out of jail when she could, and visited me in jail when I was denied bail. But nothing had done anything to turn me around. At the time, I was so far gone that I couldn't register anything beyond how low I was feeling about myself, and how the drugs—whether it was crack or speed or pot—made this pain go away. I couldn't hear what she was saying when she begged me to get sober, and I certainly couldn't understand how much I was hurting her. But no matter how dark my life got, my mom never gave up on me. When she learned that the cops were after me, she called my house. And when she got the machine, she left a message for me.

"Whatever you're doing, stop it now. The police are looking for you."

I didn't ever get that message.

Excerpted from Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted by Todd Bridges with Sarah Tomlinson. Copyright ?? 2010 by Touchstone. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Next Story