College Sports

Years of drug abuse. Find out how tennis helped this MJC player overcome his issues

How did Trey Reed battle addiction for 25 years?

Modesto Junior College sophomore tennis player Trey Reed has battled drug addiction for 25 years. It wasn't a visit to his 20th rehab facility that he decided to change his life.
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Modesto Junior College sophomore tennis player Trey Reed has battled drug addiction for 25 years. It wasn't a visit to his 20th rehab facility that he decided to change his life.

As he walked into to The Living Center on McHenry Avenue in Modesto a few years ago, Trey Reed saw his favorite car in the parking lot.

“There was this BMW sitting there and just to myself I said, ‘Maybe there are tennis rackets in there,’” Reed said.

Reed, who was about to enter his 20th drug rehabilitation facility, walked by the car and sure enough, there were two rackets.

“I said ‘Maybe this is God’s will and maybe this will be the time,’” he said.

One way or another, tennis has always provided a positive spark in Reed’s battle with addiction — and really, in his life.

On May 9, the Modesto Junior College tennis player will celebrate five years of sobriety.

Besides drugs, which he began using as a teenager, the 47-year old Central Catholic High graduate has had a constant link to the sport.

“Throughout my whole addiction, tennis seemed to always poke through,” Reed said. “In a drug den, the TV would come on and it would be tennis and it would divert my attention. Tennis has always had a sway in my life.”

Three years into his sobriety, Reed wanted to go back to school and play, and did so at MJC.

Shawn Black, the Pirates’ men’s and women’s tennis coach, said he heard about Reed — who played in high school at Central Catholic — at the Brenda Athletic Club, where he was a coach and Reed was a member.

So last year, Reed joined the team and went undefeated in singles in the Big 8 Conference. He lost in the first round of the state tournament.

“It’s incredible,” Black said. “He is 47 years old and at all of our conditioning workouts and trainings, he’s beating guys that are 19 years old.”

A long road

The journey has been a long one. Since 16, Reed said he struggled with substance abuse.

In high school, he drank alcohol and did cocaine. From there, the addiction included methamphetamine and PCP, he said.

He can’t remember the number of times he was arrested, but he’s got a string of them — generally tied to possession — documented on the Stanislaus County Superior Court case index file.

Reed lived on the streets and at some points, his only possessions were in the shopping cart he would push around. Despite his struggles, his family never left his side.

“They always had my back and kept fighting,” Reed said, “I was arrested with a pound of dope in the Bay Area and they were there to support me and bail me out.”

Going to jail was routine for Reed. But, one trip in 2014 stuck with him.

“I was in jail and had court the next day and had food poisoning,” Reed said. “They wouldn’t give me toilet paper and I was so sick and I didn’t want to go to court. When I got to court, there was a part where you have to cross the public area and I lifted my head up and my dad (Jim Reed) was standing there and he just saw me in this total complete desperation and incomprehensible demoralization.”

Jim Reed said every time he saw his son struggling, he hoped Trey would — and could — turn his life around.

“It’s unbelievable,” Jim said. “We were told there was a 3 percent chance of him recovering and one day it happened like a miracle.”

Reed said that moment in jail made him realize he didn’t want to go back.

Succeeding on, off court

Not only is he succeeding on the court (27-12 career singles record and 20-13 in doubles), but he has a 4.0 GPA and is majoring in Human Services because he wants to work in those same rehab facilities to help people.

His doubles partner, Enochs graduate Trevor Wright, said Reed keeps him “level-headed.” He said Reed’s story was a familiar one.

“I have had a lot of people in my family that have had the same path as him and didn’t kind of come out on top,” Wright said. “He is coming out and thriving in life right now.”

Both have qualified for the California Community College Athletic Association Doubles Championships that begin April 24 in Ojai.

In his spare time, Reed also is an artist, a hobby he said he got involved with in 2003 and continued with even during his battle with drugs.

On his website,, Reed describes his art as “a blend of colors that are individually loud, crazed, often obnoxious, but when layered, tinted, stained, and distressed form a soft palette that easily coordinates with various design landscapes and styles.”

His father said his son picked up his artistic skills from his mother, who was an interior decorator before she retired.

Some of his portfolio has been put on display at Gallo Center for the Arts and Del Rio Golf Country Club, among others, according to his website.

Sport mirrors life

Tennis is a game of back and forth, much like Reed’s battle with addiction.

“My message (to addicts) is to find a passion, something you love or loved when you were first starting out,” he said. “You have to have a life outside of just recovery and you have to have something else that makes you happy. Find a passion and never give up.”

The Living Center is the one place Reed said made the most impact with the message of finding yourself and working hard to achieve. He also credited institutions in jail.

“I went to 20 different rehabs and it wasn’t until the 20th that it really stuck so you never know when your time is,” he said. “Your time is there and you just can never give up.”

Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.