"Forget it," I thought. "Just kill me now, because I'm tired of this life anyway." I was ready for it all to end. I was done with the hurt and the shame I felt over the abuse and racism I had experienced as a child, the feeling I had that my life wasn't worth anything, and that because I was a drug addict, I didn't deserve any better anyhow.

The cops were ready, too. They watched me closely.

But then something spoke to me from deep inside of myself, maybe God, maybe some part of me that had somehow managed to survive all of the bad stuff I had been through and wasn't ready to give up, no matter how much pain I was in.

"Don't reach for it," the voice said. "Just let it go."

It was a hard choice. Suicide by cop was easy compared to what I had in front of me. I had gone from being a teen idol to a tabloid joke. I was broke, and I didn't have any prospects of getting my career back. I had been to rehab five times. I usually didn't last more than a few days. It never once stuck for longer than a few months. I had spent almost a year in jail while awaiting trial and vowed I would never go back. I had tried, and failed, to block out all of the things that had been written about me in the press before. I had felt pain and self-hatred so deep and raw that the only way to silence it was with drugs.

But this was not how I wanted to end it. I wanted to live. I let go of my gun and closed up the secret compartment.

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.


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