Actor Matthew McConaughey's memoir Greenlights has been generating buzz since the actor released it in October of 2020. It's full of countless incredible stories about his personal life and success in Hollywood but one story, in particular, turned out to be about a country music legend. The addict that is described only as 'Larry' in Part Five: Turn the Page is actually Larry Gatlin of Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers. Known for hit songs like "All the Gold in California" and "Broken Lady," the Nashville legend had serious addiction troubles years ago and he hopes that being included in McConaughey's book will help others down the road.
Gatlin initially listened to the audiobook version of Greenlights and received multiple calls from people figuring out that it was actually him described in the book, including his own daughter.
"She said to me, 'Dad, you are in Matthew McConaughey's book ... I know that's you,'" Gatlin said.
In his memoir, McConaughey recounts the story of Darrell Royal helping Gatlin overcome his addiction at a moment in his life where he was in serious need of help.
"I remember the day, it was October something of 1984," Gatlin recalls to PEOPLE of the moment that took place during his days as a successful country singer/songwriter. "[University of Texas at Austin Football] Coach [Darrell] Royal and I were talking. We had hit it off right away. For me, he was one of those people that you meet, and you instantly don't have to explain anything to each other. We were at this Pro-Am party at this golf tournament, and Coach Royal caught me with white powder on my nose."
Gatlin was skeptical he could ever get his cocaine addiction under control but Coach Royal gave him some important words of advice.
"He told me, 'Larry Wayne, I have never had any trouble turning the page in the book of my life,'" Gatlin recalled. "He said to me, 'It's time you turned the page.'"
And Gatlin did just that. He entered a rehab facility in California and got help immediately with the help of the football coach. Sadly Darrell Royal passed away from Alzheimer's disease in 2012, but the help he gave Gatlin all those years ago changed his life for the better.
"Coach Royal did not send me to treatment ... he took me to treatment," Gatlin explained. "Darrell knew what I was doing. He was one of the smartest and wisest men. And his wife? They both really did save my life. I think about it every day. Hopefully, I'll be there to help somebody sometime like they did for me. I would be long dead if it hadn't been for them."
Now, Gatlin is 37 years sober and has led a life of happiness and success thanks to his sobriety. Despite the fact that he has always been incredibly open about his journey and his addiction struggles, it was still a surprise that he was in McConaughey's book.
"I'm so very grateful to Matthew," Gatlin said of the Oscar winner. "You never know when what we read is going to change our lives. I was able to kick my addictions thanks to my wife and my family and my God and an incredible program of recovery. But now, I truly believe there will be people that will read Greenlights and they are going to thank McConaughey for putting my story in there."
Despite the fact that the book was released months ago, Gatlin decided to fully disclose his identity in the book to PEOPLE as part of the #GreenlightsChallenge on social media where people post videos of themselves reading parts of the book and imitating McConaughey's iconic twang.
Greenlights is available to purchase on Amazon here.
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