Reggie Bush is opening up about his time in the spotlight.
Talking to NFL players Adam Jones, Brandon Marshall and LeSean McCoy on the I Am Athlete show on Tuesday, the former USC football star, 37, spoke at length about his struggles with fame during the late 2000s.
"I think there was some good and some bad," Bush said about his press coverage after Jones called him the "Mecca of the Media" at the time. The former Buffalo Bills running back famously dated Kim Kardashian from 2007 to 2009.
"I think for me at that time period I was still dealing with a lot of the Heisman stuff," Bush continued about the four-year extra-benefits investigation that ultimately forced him to return the famed trophy.
"At that time period, when I'm deeply immersed into Hollywood of whom I'm dating and stuff like that, that was not the best time for me because I was hurting on the inside," Bush continued.
"Spiritually I was broken," he added, saying the Heisman investigation impacted him for at least five years of his NFL career. "The thing is when you go through trauma, it can be in a relationship level, it can be football, anything, but when you go through the trauma, how you deal with that trauma is the next step," he continued.
"A lot of us don't deal with our trauma in the right way, a lot of us internalize it," said Bush. "Especially when you've got a lot of money, you're young and maybe you don't have a ton of guidance, that can be toxic."
For Bush, the answer at the time was to prioritize partying so that he could distract himself from the wider issues rather than focusing on his career.
"There were a lot of summers where I felt like I wasted time," he told I Am Athlete. "I should have been putting more into my craft, more into the sport, giving back more into my body because at some point our bodies start to fail us in this sport."
"At that time period, I didn't feel like there was anybody I could relate to," he continued. "I never felt like there was somebody I could reach out to that could relate to the Heisman Trophy, could relate to the Hollywood fame portion of it, could relate to what we're doing at USC playing at national championships every year."
In 2017, Bush retired from the sport. Since then the former football star and dad of three has been able to concentrate on life with his wife Lilit and their sons Agyemang, 5, and Uriah, 7, and daughter Briseis, 9.
"I've been able to enjoy more time with our family and just being able to do things that I normally wouldn't be able to be here for," Bush told PEOPLE in 2020 about his decision to leave the NFL. "For 20-plus years, most of my time was devoted to a single sport. Now I get an opportunity to be home, and to find a new passion and keep my focus on top of my family."
"We've been really focusing on this time with our family and trying to better ourselves," he said. "It's definitely been a challenge for us to homeschool but together we feel like we've been learning in this process a lot about ourselves, and we're making it work."
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Bush added that he and Lilit both give each other much-needed time off to step away and decompress. "Then when we come back to the kids, we're at our best level," Lilit added.
"They're all active," she added about their three children. "They're all athletic, obviously — that's a mandatory in the house. Everybody's got to stretch, everybody's got to exercise. That helps a lot to kill that energy during the day so they're good to go to sleep."