On May 21, Big Jack Little stood on stage at the Optimum Classic in Shreveport, hoping to win his class of 5 feet, 10 inches and taller like he did in 2015.
“This show was the most fun I’ve ever had because No. 1, I was competitor No. 5,” he said. “I was the fifth person to go on stage. When you’re in bodybuilding, you’re at the front of the class. It was really cool being one of the first ones out there even though I was as nervous as crap.”
“I remember thinking, ‘Let this be his moment of I did it,'” his wife Christy Little said. “‘I can do anything. I just did this.'”
Winning the show would mean even more than it did seven years ago. It would be a comeback story that neither Jack nor Christy will forget.
Jack had made a name for himself, whether it was being named top waiter in Marshall or acting in movies but he had a dark secret – he was battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Jack initially arrived in Marshall in 2010 after getting out of prison.
“I went to the halfway house and started over here,” he said. “Then I walked into Golden Corral and they gave me a job in 2011 and I stayed there until 2020. I built a good name as far as service.”
After being sober for eight years, Jack relapsed in 2018 and that led to several arrests and eventually landed him back in prison.
“I had gotten discouraged,” Jack explained. “I was working 60-70 hours at Golden Corral and I was trying to body build. I was doing pretty well. I was still getting up on stage, working 60 hours and prepping for shows but I got discouraged.”
“He’s always been big on his image,” Christy said. “He always thought he was supposed to be infallible. Little kids look at him like he’s an action figure, a superhero and he’d come so far from where he initially was when he had gotten out of prison and he built himself up in the community. He never wanted to admit to anybody, ‘I’m struggling. I’m an addict and alcoholic who is not in a good place. I’m not working a program and I am on the ground. They saw this but they didn’t see the struggling at night to leave work and go straight home and not go to a dope house. I saw the struggle.”
“I wasn’t drinking a 12-pack or a 30-pack but I was drinking a little every day and it had gotten a grip on me and I didn’t compete,” Jack said. “I’ll be honest with you, dude, my life went down after that. It was a huge let down. I still went to the gym a little bit but I veered off the path.”
Both Jack and Christy are close with members of the Marshall Police Department and that’s who she reached out to help.
“Jamie McConnell, he’s with the police department, I’d call him and I’d say, ‘I don’t know what else to do,'” Christy said. “’We’ve got to get him off the road. He’s out there driving around. I had GPS on his Lexus and I was like, ‘This is where he’s at and this is how fast he’s going. He’s going to hurt somebody. He’s out of his mind and he might not even remember it tomorrow. It’s crazy because I was willing to do anything. I was putting myself into some dumb situations. I was even driving crazy to try to catch him. It was insane how one person’s choice can trickle down.”
“I had so much guilt and shame because she deserved so much better,” Jack said. “It was horrible what I had done. I told her many, many times while I was high, ‘I can’t stop.’ She would say to me, and this is what stuck to me, ‘You’re going to beat this one day,’ and she would pray for me.”
Christy continued to pray for Jack while he was in jail.
“I would sit in the jail parking lot and pray for him and to be closer to him but not one moment did I think, “I’m going to get him out” because I wanted him to be clean and sober forever,” she said. “I knew if I brought him home, he’d be gone that night and somebody would not care. They would take whatever money he had.”
Jack eventually was released from jail but in September of last year, he had another relapse. He got on his motorcycle and headed to Mississippi. On his way back, he had a run in with drug dealers. His phone was off for four days and Christy made a dangerous trek. He had been gone for about a week before she found him in a Louisiana trailer park in what she says were the worst conditions she’d ever seen.
“How he wasn’t dead,” she said. “At that point, they (the drug dealers) had already found out I was in town and they were coming to do their worst to us both. We left town as quickly as we possibly could because I was scared to death. I got him back to Marshall, got him cleaned up, got him fed. He slept for two days. In that span of time, I had contacted his probation officer.”
This time, Jack put up no fight but went willingly to see his probation officer, knowing he was likely going to be behind bars once again.
“The difference was when I went on that last escapade, it was like the 30 years I had been dealing with addiction all combined into a week,” Jack said when asked what was different this time as to why he didn’t put up a fight. “It was mind-blowing. No. 1, I was trying to kill myself in those seven days. I wanted to die. I was ingesting so many drugs and so many chemicals because I didn’t want to come back. I was done. I couldn’t face it anymore. When she knocked on the door of that trailer, I hadn’t had any water. I hadn’t eaten in seven days and I had been smoking PCP. It was mind boggling all that had happened from the time I had left to that moment. Then when I got back, I started facing the music.”
Jack was sent to prison but his sentence was a lot shorter than he expected. He was released on Dec. 13.
“The day he was released was the anniversary of my dad’s death,” Christy said. “I remember thinking, ‘My dad is giving me is giving me the greatest gift.'”
“I told my wife the day I got out I’m going to compete,” Jack said. “I will never forget the look on her face. She was like, ‘Are you crazy? You don’t even have a job.’”
“I told him, ‘You have lost your mind,'” Christy said. “Your frame is too big to do bodybuilding with those legs. You are too tall. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure because your legs are not going to be what you want them to be.’ I was totally against it. I said, ‘Don’t do something that’s going to make you feel bad about yourself. I want you to do something that’s going to make you feel good,’ and I’ll never forget, he goes, ‘I’m going to do it because this is what I dream about.’ I said, ‘I’ll support you no matter what you do as long as you’re clean and as long as you’re sober,’ I said, ‘But let me tell you something. Do not think that if you get up there and you don’t do whatever you think you should do up there that I’m going to be disappointed because I’m proud of you.’”
Jack made sure he was prepared for the competition and as he stood on that stage in his sparkly gold trunks, he was announced as the winner of the same competition he had won seven years ago.
“When I got out, it was like magic because I hadn’t competed, and then to see my wife cry seeing me get first place, that was a moment, that was the real deal right there,” Jack said. “All the hell we went through, she stood by me. That’s the back story that people need to know.”
“The very first time he’s ever truly had the confidence to get on stage to do the bodybuilding category, the son of a gun wins first place,” Christy said.
“We’re on the right road,” Jack said. “It’s a lot better than it’s ever been.”