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Santino's Story

Since returning to D.C. United this spring, Santino Quaranta has been telling everyone that he went through a lot in his recovery from injuries and in his attempts to turn around his troubled career. We didn't know exactly what he had to overcome to make it back.

Until now.

In a chilling, sad, uplifting and emotional story, Quaranta described his addiction to painkillers, his use of cocaine, his lies and deceptions, his cries for help, his faltering career and finally his three-month stay at a rehabilitation center in California.

Click here to read the complete story.

In the next few days here on the Insider, I will share with you additional material from Santino and others that did not fit into the print-edition article.

By Steve Goff  |  June 13, 2008; 9:46 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Morning Kickaround


Thanks Steve. That explains a lot.

Does MLS treat this as an isolated incident or do they have programs to try to pre-empt further occurrences?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | June 13, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that was a really good read.

Nice work Goff.

And kudos to Santino for turning things around. Best of luck to him in the future.

If only he would've let me keep his jersey he threw into the stands at the Chivas/DC game out here in L.A. Maybe next time I'll have to make the sign that says "Santino can I have your baby, er, jersey?"

Posted by: Chief Clancy Wiggum | June 13, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Incredible story!

I am very happy for Santino Quaranta.

I hope he can stay on the right path.

Posted by: Jose L. Couso | June 13, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Good stuff, Goff, clear off space on your wall now for the award (s) you're gonna win.

That said, I'd have loved to have heard Payne expand on some of the things he thinks the team could have done better the first time. Very big of Payne to admit some culpability.

Posted by: ABT | June 13, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse


I just wanted to say I thought it was a really well written piece, especially in regards to how you constructed Santino's narrative. In addition to always having a good scoop, it's nice to see good writing as well.

Posted by: Nic | June 13, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Excellent reporting, Goff. But I really have to commend Santino Quaranta for having the courage to tell a story about his very deep and personal low points. It takes a tremendous amount of determination to climb out of that quicksand, on his part and also from those who care about him.

Even before I knew his full story, it has been clear that Quaranta is a changed and better player this season.

Posted by: black shirt | June 13, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Steve, what a wonderfully constructed piece. I'm glad the Post has given you the space to tell the story. Living in Baltimore, the word on the street, if you knew where to listen, was that Tino had some bad problems and this certainly confirms it. His resurrection has been, by far, the happiest thing about this season for me.

Posted by: Eric in Baltimore | June 13, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Goff, thanks for writing this. I, for one, am glad he's back. And to Tino, thanks for being brave enough to share this with all of us. And thank you for finding your way through all the madness.

Posted by: Sarah | June 13, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow! what a story. Well, I hope he never goes back to that route again. Life is too short.

Posted by: arlington for United | June 13, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

What a poignant and uplifting story. We can't yet be sure of a happy ending, but Santino has taken the most important steps of all, which is to admit to a problem, and admit further that he couldn't solve it without outside intervention. He's not cured--I'm sure he knows that--but he has shown enormous inner strength to be able to fight the beast down on a daily basis. I hope he is now surrounded by people who have only his best interests at heart. DC United fans should go out of their way to bond with this young man.

Posted by: Hedbal | June 13, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

So this was the project you were working on.

What a marvelous story. Both in the telling (you) and in the living (Tino).

I had no idea, when I hugged him at that first game back as he came over to the Barra, that my words, "Welcome back," had such a deeper meaning.

Posted by: seahawkdad | June 13, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry he had to go through it, but very proud of him for having the courage to face it and share his struggles with the public.

Great job of writing/conveying his story to us the readers.

Posted by: dcu fan | June 13, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Just wow. It explains so very much.

Thanks, Steven, for an excellent piece.

Posted by: Grunthos | June 13, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Amazing story, thanks for being there Steve. For Santino's family, friends, fans and teamates this was very important stuff to get out.
Baltimore is without a doubt a different city than DC, apples and oranges if you will. Trouble can be found most anywhere I've found though, easier in certain circles for certain.
Staying close to home can really prove dangerous as well. Too easy to use those tried and true connects to delve deeper into the underbelly...
I wonder if he knows my buddy Jed...
anyone else Know jed??
Stay solid in recovery Tino!
Keep working on your service, and or start cutting inside like Fred and Shhooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooottttt.!!!!
This has been some week hasn't it?
Thanks Goff!

Posted by: Dadryan | June 13, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Great piece of work, Goff! A great read from start to finish about a player I often wondered about... He definitely has/had a story to tell and I'm glad he's well. Again, well written.

Posted by: Nick | June 13, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Well when he finishes high school this summer he'll have plenty of time to practice his crossing.

Just kidding. Fantastic story, Mr. Goff. The conclusion is unfortunately too uncommon in American athletes' stories today.

Posted by: Glaucon | June 13, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Powerful piece Steven. Thank you.

Posted by: Nick | June 14, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Powerful stuff, Goff.

Santino came and went from the team before I ever moved to the area and became a fan, so I didn't know much about his history with the franchise. I could tell, however, from his quotes that he felt like he had something to prove to the brass and to himself when he came back here this year. Now we know why. Good luck to him; I hope he keeps it up.

Posted by: Matt in Silver Spring | June 14, 2008 12:19 AM | Report abuse

I can't really do anything but add another "wow" to the list.

That took some real courage by Tino and you repaid his trust with a first-rate piece.

Posted by: Mark M | June 14, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Well, now we know your super secret project you've been hinting at the last couple of days.

Great read. More importantly, great steps forward for Tino. Let's hope it continues.

Posted by: Kim | June 14, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Terrific story ...
Kudos to you Tino and all the best bud.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I echo Mark M.'s comments. Bravely told and well-reported. I suppose most of us struggle with something, but Tino sounds like he's on the right path for him, now. We'll be in his corner. I'm sure he feels he has a long way to go, and that's right -- but I think he's made enormous strides off the field and on. I already gave him my vote for man of the match -- I think his courageous runs engineered the comeback against Toronto and helped turn United's season around. Keep em coming, Tino!

Posted by: Fisch Fry | June 14, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Tino deserves a big roar tonight.

Posted by: Herr Maus | June 14, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

And again, WOW! As a former cocaine and pain killer (and current mick) addict, I can sympathize. KUDOS!!!! to Santino.

Posted by: gilbert | June 14, 2008 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful article Steve! Thanks for writing that, it was brilliant. Inspiring and tragic.

Posted by: Gabe | June 14, 2008 3:42 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: sitruc | June 14, 2008 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Thank you for writing & Santino for telling the story.

Posted by: m | June 14, 2008 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Steve, That was a great article. As someone who has watched Santino since he was a little kid, that was a great story.. Santino had a lot of courage to come out with the article, but he has really turned around his life. I am just as proud of Santino the person as I am Santino the soccer play......Highlandtown oldtimer

Posted by: Highlandtown Oldtimer | June 14, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Man was I harsh on this kid last year when I had know idea what was up with him.

My only grudge now is whether or not he can stay clean and lose some of the weight he has.

He frame is just too large to be carrying an extra 5-10 pounds for gametime.

Posted by: lprevolution | June 14, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Steven, you deserve the great praise you are getting for this piece. Fantastic. Santino deserves so much credit for dealing with his addictions before he lost everything. I hope RFK explodes for him when he is announced tonight.

Posted by: Nogra Rover | June 14, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Great Stuff, Steven!
We're lucky to have you writing about our favorite team. Everyone knew something was up, and many realized that something had changed for the better. It's amazing to me that we're able to hear this story in such detail. Great courage from Tino, and as always great writing from you, sir.
Your sensitivity and professionalism are always appreciated.

Posted by: Dobey | June 14, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Excellent journalism for Goff.

Excellent work by Quaranta to fight to come back and get to where he is with his life and family.

Best wishes to the player and the man as he goes forward.

Posted by: Somos United | June 14, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse


One of the best pieces you have written. Well Done!! Congrats to Santino for getting the help that he needed.

Posted by: Mak10 | June 14, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks, everyone

Santino's journey continues...

Posted by: Goff | June 14, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

WOW - What an incredible story - well written. I know our family's heart goes out to Tino's - one day at a time man!!

I love how United gave Tino another chance and its great to see him take advantage of it!

Posted by: bobf | June 14, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

For anyone who has ever gone through anything similar it wasn't hard to read between the lines in Santino's interviews. I'm glad he finally felt comfortable to get it off his chest, that's always a reward in and of itself.

Posted by: Keep your head up Tino | June 14, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Goff, that was one of the best stories I have ever read about soccer. That would make an amazing story for HBO Real Sports. Great work!

Posted by: Nick | June 14, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Not much more can be said.....incredible story. Family before DC United. Wonder how many of us could learn something from that... (boda united raises his hand)

Posted by: boda united | June 14, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Wonderfully written. This is why we have the best situation here, media-wise.

I think most fans knew something was up with Tino, but not to this depth. To me, the most compelling piece is how the league played a role in helping him. People try to bash MLS for little things like discovery rules and such, but it makes me feel proud to follow the league knowing that they recognize how to treat their players when the chips are really down.

Good luck to Tino. I think he now realizes how massive his support system is.

Posted by: Brian | June 14, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

As a Crew fan, I had no idea anything out of the ordinary was going on with Quaranta in his dip in form. Great to hear he's back on the right track and has turned his life around. Amazing story, I wish the best of luck to Santino.

Posted by: Brandon | June 14, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Incredibly well-written story. That was simply amazing.

I'm pulling for you, Santino, that you make it all the way back. And God bless Petrina for sticking with him.

Posted by: Nicole | June 14, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Overcoming addiction is possibly one of the most difficult things any human being can do. I'm sure that every single person on this blog and every DCU fan knows someone or has personally struggled (is struggling) with addiction.

I would just like to say to Tino as a human being... be strong, enjoy the great blessings that are your friends and family and keep on living for each day.

Goff, one of the best pieces I can remember from you and I've been a reader of yours from day one. Very very well done. A testament to your professionalism and skill.

For discussion... one very interesting and subtle quote in the article from the DCU front office about recognizing things that they could have done differently. Were they the ones that could have "told" Tino things when he was younger? I think this speaks to the challenge and responsibility that pro leagues/teams have when they choose to employ teenagers.

Thanks again Goff. Tino... from the depths of my heart... good luck.

Posted by: AlexandriaDan | June 14, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I've been off the blog while on travel, and came back this morning to get my fix. Great stuff. Give Emilio & co. some more of those confidence pills please. That kind of overdose will lead to a different kind of rehab.

Posted by: MR Caretaker | June 14, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

What a story!

I had always seen Quaratna back in the day as a spoiled kid who had a sense of entitlement but surely now he has built the character and grit that it seems few American players have and I would love him to get one more shot with the nats sometime in the future.

Posted by: Kartik | June 14, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Jaime and especially Ben deserve kudos for their support of Santino. We are very lucky to have had two such gentlemen representing the club for so long.

Posted by: Eric in Baltimore | June 14, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Great story. I've been really pleased as both a fan and a human being at Santino's turnaround on the field this season. I guess it makes sense that it required an even bigger turnaround off the field. Thanks Steven for writing the story, and thanks Tino for having the courage to tell it.

Posted by: EdTheRed | June 14, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Steven.

I'll echo what everyone else has said: an incredible story, extremely well told. I was literally in tears as I read it.

It's easy for us who have to work long hours to make a living in today's economy to be cynical about young athletes who seem to have so much at a young age and then blow it. But, as a parent, you know how difficult it can be growing up today. Life is such a fragile balance of opportunity and reward. Here's hoping that Tino continues to find that balance.

Additionally, I can only imagine what his parents and those that love him have been through, as well. Credit is due to his young wife for sticking with him. She must be an impressive young lady.


Posted by: asitis | June 14, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Definitely picking up a #25 jersey at the team store today.

Posted by: Goose | June 14, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Nothing new to add, other than to echo all and especially the praise for Petrina and her patience.

Tino must be a very strong person to have survived and held onto a marriage and something of a career through all that. As he leaves the worst behind, each day, that strength will benefit United.

Before today, I didn't think Ben and Jaime could get much higher in my esteem, but they just did.

Posted by: LD | June 14, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

What an incredible story! Great job on the writing, Goff.

What an incredible turn-around from this young player. I hope he can continue to make the right choices each and every day. He is very lucky for his family and friends who love and support him.

Posted by: Angela | June 14, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Proud of you Santino! Keep kickin butt on and off the pitch.

Posted by: Logan Circle | June 14, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

That is one of the most well-written stories I have read in a really long time. Very excellent reporting

Posted by: GoUnited | June 14, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse


That was an outstanding article and speaks to your skill as a top-notch journalist.

Well done.

Posted by: Dave | June 14, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article. Very well-written. I wish nothing but the best for Tino.


Posted by: Matt Mathai | June 14, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Top notch work, Goff. And congrats to Tino for overcoming his addiction...not that the battle is ever completely won--it's just managed. But it sounds like he IS managing it. His wife deserves much credit, too. I wish them both the best.

Posted by: KR in DC | June 14, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Steven. Day at a time Tino, day at a time.

Posted by: Bill-DC | June 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

A banner with "You'll Never Walk Alone Tino" would be apropos.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

My favorite baseball team is the Cincinnati Reds, and I went through something like this last year when they picked up Josh Hamilton. He was a former #1 draft pick who had ruined his career with drug addiction, but had finally kicked the habit (with help from strong faith, strong family, and strong friends). He earned a starting spot in the lineup right away and immediately became a fan favorite. He's currently one of the best players in the American League for the Texas Rangers.

Besides being a talented young person overcoming addiction, both Hamilton and Quaranta are easy to cheer for. They're charismatic athletes who have faced true demons, and are being forthright and humble about what they went through, how they came back, and how they're rededicating themselves to positive living every day.

I know I'll be cheering louder for Santino today. A huge roar for him will give me goosebumps. You have the support of the greatest fans in MLS, Tino. You have our admiration for having the courage to come back and to share your story, and our loyalty for demonstrating that you want to change. Well done, son. We're with you.

Great job, Goff, for sharing this story with us in a very skillful well.

Posted by: Brendanukkah | June 14, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Great article - very moving.

Good Luck Tino - I'm pulling for you.

Posted by: mmok | June 14, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering if (and when) someone would bring up Josh Hamilton.

I didn't even have to come to the Insider to find the story -- it's linked twice on the main page of the online version.

A stunning story...anything else I say would merely be echoing others' comments.

Bravo and well done.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | June 14, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Great story, Goffinho.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 14, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Great writing Steve. One of the best articles I've seen in the Post sports section, ever.

Posted by: David | June 14, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant reporting, written with tremendous sensitivity. Santino has always been a favorite. I'll be cheering more loudly tonight.

Posted by: SW Trevor | June 14, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Kudos, excellent read.

Posted by: Dude | June 14, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

An incredible, incredible read Steve. Great work.

Posted by: Jenks | June 14, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

not too long ago, after a true working mans performance, I thought Santino could become the next Ben Olsen. He was everywhere on the pitch, doing anything and everything to help the team. I have the utmost praise and repsect for Ben so this is a high compliment. Santino has more natural talent and with maturity and dedication could become the heart of a team. Not necessarily the star but a key role player and role model. I'm rooting for you, Sunny!

Posted by: section 232 | June 14, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Goff - thanks for the story.

Good job - Santino for overcoming these challenges.

Posted by: joey | June 14, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Once again proving why you are the best Mr. Goff...let's hope this story has a happy ending, with a long career in a United jersey and healthy lifestyle off the field for Tino.

Posted by: tim | June 14, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for sharing this, Tino. Way to pull yourself up.

Thanks Goff.

Posted by: dr | June 14, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Wow! I can't add much to what others have already said.

Did all of Tino's teammates, not just Moreno and Olsen and a few others, know all of this, or are they learning much of this along with the rest of us? Has anyone heard any reaction to Goff's story from players or others in the United organization who weren't quoted in the piece?

Posted by: tri-village | June 14, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Just shows what can happen to immature souls finding themselves with too much money and time on their hands.....and yet why did Santino succumb, but not, say, Freddy? Was it due to more family support/control? Or just a stronger, more focused will? Who knows...

I just hope Tino continues to play well and stays healthy, because the minute his play starts to slip, the boards will be teeming with speculation and accusations. Perhaps going public with this admission was to make sure we all hold him accountable, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

As of 8:30 p.m., this story ranks 16th on the Post's list of most emailed articles.

Posted by: tri-village | June 14, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Quaranta got the ovation he deserves at the beginning of tonight's match. Hopefully he has inspired individuals to take their own addictions seriously. My only question is......

Where does somebody get one of those sweet "Quaranta Fan Club" T-shirts that were present at RFK tonight?

Posted by: Terps_United | June 14, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

wow, great piece Steven!
My love goes to Tino and everyone around him than had supported and helped him to find road to a healthy and better life, especially his wife who had to endure the hardest of all and love him enough to stick with him.

Thanks to Kevin Payne, Dave Casper and Tom Sohen for giving him a second chance.

Olsen and Moreno: I wouldn't expected nothing less from them.

Posted by: Sandra C. | June 14, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Steve, I know that I am way late to this thread (I was out of town over the weekend) but I have to say that this was a great story. It makes me really want to pull for Santino and see him continue to resurrect his career, and more importantly, his life.

Posted by: GoldenChild | June 16, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Great article, Steve - best soccer story I've read this year.

Posted by: Charles | June 18, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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