Born: August 21, 1987
Birthplace: Burnaby B.C.
Minor Hockey Association: Port Coquitlam Pirates
Favourite Hockey Player(s): Pavel Bure, Darren McCarty, Bob. Probert and Theo Fleury
Junior Teams: Ridge Meadow Flames, Burnaby Express, Swift Current Broncos, Kelowna Rockets
Pro Teams: Victoria Salmon Kings, Norfolk Admirals, TB Lightning (Exb), Tilburg Trappers, RGV Killer Bees
Brady Leavold grew up in the suburban area of Port Coquitlam, 27 km east of Vancouver, British Columbia. Like most young boys in Canada, Leavold dreamt of one day playing in the National Hockey League. Leavold grew up using hockey to channel his anger and aggression that stemmed from a traumatic experience that took place over the course of two thanksgiving family reunions in Northern B.C. He suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an older man in the early 1990’s between the ages of 4-6. Like most abused children, Leavold lived in fear and confusion holding onto the dark secret until he was 26 years old. Throughout his child hood Brady utilized any athletic outlet to funnel his pain, but hockey was his main focus. Brady's hard work and persistence would eventually pay off.
Leavold broke into the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos at the age of 17 in 2004-2005 after playing one game as a 16 year old the previous season. Brady captured the Broncos Rookie of the Year honours after his first season and the future looked bright. Off the ice Leavold’s struggles started to became more evident, even during his first season in the WHL he was granted a leave of absence from the team because he was feeling suicidal. Just seven games into the 2005-2006 season Leavold walked away from the Swift Current Broncos for his own personal reasons, a choice that altered the course of his life.
Leavold was traded to the Everett Silvertips, the team he had dreamt of playing for in his early teen years but he never joined the Tips, declining to go to Everett. Instead, Leavold took to the ice with the Burnaby Express of the BCHL, starring on a line with then 16 year old phenom Kyle Turris. Brady recorded 9 points in his first 3 games with the Express but his mental health was deteriorating by the minute and his love for hockey was starting to be overshadowed by his new love for substances. Leavold had first experimented with ecstasy in the summer just before leaving the Broncos and joining the Express and from that moment on Brady Leavold was a drug addict. While playing for the Express Leavold was regularly playing high or on little to no sleep. In some cases he wouldn’t even show up for games and practices. The hockey staff on the Express did what they could to intervene and help Leavold and for a short time he was able to stay straight while attending counselling and being monitored by drug testing. After a game in 2006, a freak accident in the dressing room left Leavold with a cut Achilles tendon and he was told his season and possibly his career could be ended. Against the advice of the Express, he stopped showing up to the rink. Once again, he walked away from the team. With no team, no counselling and no drug testing, Leavold quickly fell back into a life of self medication.
Battling with concussions, depression and the burden of the dark secret from his child hood, the substances gave him the escape he was looking for. The escape that he had only ever been able to find in hockey up to that point in his life. Just mere weeks after quitting for the second time that season, Leavold was kicked out of his family home due to his erratic and unpredictable behaviour. At 18 years old, he was essentially homeless for the first time, the only comfort came in the form of substances. As long as he was numb it did not matter his circumstances. It would be a familiar story for the next decade. Leavold bounced around between some of his friends house, but his support networks were slowly slipping away.
In late July of 2006 Brady decided that he needed to make a change. The life of partying had really started to take a toll on his physical and mental health. He picked up the phone and called the coach of the Swift Current Broncos, Dean Chynoweth. Chynoweth was the same coach that granted Leavold a leave of absence and the same coach he walked away from and he also declined a trade Chynoweth had made that would have seen Leavold in a Silvertips jersey. Reluctantly, Chynoweth agreed to let Leavold attend training camp with no guaranties. Leavold would make the Broncos once again, now 19 years old with a lot to prove. Chynoweth made Leavold earn his spot each and every night for the first half of the season. Regardless of what Leavold did he remained on the third and fourth line with limited playing time.
Brady had always relied and his skating and skill to carry him in his hockey career but now he needed to find something to separate himself. He needed to prove to his teammates, the coaches and the community of Swift Current that he was there and would die for his teammates. Leavold led the Broncos in fighting majors that season and finished strong with 35 points in 56 games, but off the ice his mental health was rapidly deteriorating. Shortly after the Christmas break Leavold was dealing with some personal issues back home and still holding onto his darkest secret. Though he never did hard drugs in Swift Current, he turned to the bottle to find comfort and to numb his pain. Once again Leavold started to miss practices and workouts, almost being suspended shortly before playoffs but the team voted he was more valuable on the ice than in the stands.
What nobody knew was that Leavold had been seeing a local girl from Speedy Creek and they had found out she was pregnant just days before the 2007 WHL playoffs were set to start. The Broncos would end up losing to Jordan Eberle and the. Regina Pats in 6 games. Leavold returned to his hometown of Port Coquitlam shortly after. Leaving the girl and his unborn child behind. Upon his return Brady reunited with an old girlfriend and soon there after she too became pregnant. At 19 years old Leavold had two girls pregnant in two provinces and never felt more alone in his entire life. Going against his own morales, Leavold sided with one of the females who pressured him to choose one or the other. Regrettably Leavold complied. 13 years later he has still not met his son from Swift Current.
Leavold returned to Swift Current just a day after his 20th birthday on August 22nd, 2007. By this time the female from Swift Current was 6 months pregnant and it was no secret. Swift Current is the smallest market in the entire WHL with a population on only 16,000 it quickly became the talk of the town. Especially the cowardly way Leavold handled it. Just 2 games into the season Leavold has record 0 points and 3 fights. His rage was building, he was growingly increasingly disgusted of himself by the minute. The Broncos decided to part ways with Leavold and traded him out west to the Kelowna Rockets. Leavold arrived in Kelowna hung over after drinking everything in the mini bar of his Calgary Airport hotel room the night prior to his flight.
The Kelowna Rockets already had three 20 year olds, the maximum allowed on any CHL roster unless its an expansion team. The other 20 year olds included long time Rocket goalie Kristofer Westblom, hometown boy and Rocket captain James McEwan and The "Mooses" son Lyon Messier. Leavold was certainly on the outside looking in but somehow managed to edge out Mark Messier's son for the final spot and never looked back. The second half of the season Leavold played on the first line with star centre iceman Colin Long and NHL superstar, former Art Ross winner and Olympic Gold medalist Jamie Benn. Other notables on that roster were Tyson Barrie, Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn. Leavold finished leading the Rockets in fights and penalty minutes and second behind Long in scoring with 69 points in 69 games. He alos led the first round of the 2008 WHL playoffs in goals with 6 in 7 games before losing to the Seattle Thunderbirds in a heart breaking game 7 just days after his girlfriend gave birht to his daughter Brooklyn. Which Leavold was granted a 2 day leave of absence to be there for the scheduled c-section on March 17th 2008 just 2 days before the 2008 playoffs started. Leavold scored a goal 22 seconds into game 3 of the 08' playoffs in front of a sold out Kelowna crowd and his 1 week old daughter. It was a special moment.
Leavold had caught the eye of the NHL scouts in his final year of junior and decided he would sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Upon returning to Port Coqitlam the future was looking bright, but things were about the change. Due to his living arrangements, Leavold was subjected to a lifestyle of drugs and violence over the summer following his final year in the WHL and his addiction to cocaine sky rocketed. Leavold spent the entire 2008 summer binging on cocaine all day and all night, trying to curb the pain from his childhood and the shame and guilt he was feeling from abandoning his own flesh and blood back in Saskatchewan. Something he still can't believe he did to this day. Leavold had worked his entire life to get to this moment, he was set to leave for Tampa Bay's prospect camp that would feature the newly drafted #1 pick Steve Stamkos. You would think that would. be motivation to train and prepare, but when you're suffering from sexual abuse, mental health issues and the guilt and shame of your own choices it is extremely easy for addiction to take over. Instead of training, Leavold would be sleeping because he was up all the entire night before making endless trips to the bathroom from his bed. All in secrecy, nobody could find out. Especially those closest to him, he had so much riding on this. Now a daughter and a son that is always in the back of his mind. His mental health grew increasingly concerning not only for him but for those around him. Leavold would end up going to the prospects camp and played on a line with NHL superstar Steven Stamkos. However the night before he had spent the night drinking, smoking pot and snorting cocaine while the other prospects prepared for the biggest moment in their hockey lives to that point, but not Brady.