AJ McLean got sober after hitting rock bottom in front of his 3-year-old

His 3-year-old daughter, Lyric, said something that motivated him to get clean.
/ Source: TODAY

AJ McLean, who has struggled with substance abuse for more than two decades, is opening up about the night he hit rock bottom in front of his 3-year-old daughter, Lyric.

While speaking with People, McLean, 42, revealed that he began to spiral 10 months ago during a trip to Las Vegas.

“Before I even got on the plane, I had already mapped out the whole night,” the Backstreet Boys singer explained. “I knew where I was going to go get my drugs. I knew where I was going to go get drunk. I knew all of it and I figured, ‘OK, it’s one night. As long as I don’t go past a certain time and I don’t smell like it, I can have a nice last hurrah and then come home.”

Of course, "It never, ever works out that way," McLean said. He never slept and ended up missing two flights back to California where his wife, Rochelle, and their daughters, Ava, 6, and Lyric, were waiting.

When McLean finally pulled into his driveway, he reeked of alcohol.

“My wife and I had always had this agreement which was, if I smelled like alcohol, I wan’t allowed to play with my kids — I couldn’t be around my kids,” McLean said. “But what really hit me was the moment my youngest daughter Lyric said to me that night, ‘You don’t smell like my daddy.’ And when she said that to me, that was it. Enough said. I felt disgusting.”

McLean acknowledged he’s had “many rock bottoms” but believes that was his last.

“That was it for me,” he said. “As we say in the sober world, that was my moment of surrender.”

With the help of a daily 12-step meetings and a sponsor, McLean has 10 months of sobriety under his belt. He is currently competing with partner Cheryl Burke on “Dancing with the Stars.”

“This is the clearest I’ve ever been,” he gushed. “I’m floating high, naturally. My family has saved my life, God has saved my life, and my recovery has saved my life. Without those three things, I wouldn’t be here.”

In July, McLean told TODAY Parents he was living gratefully in the time of the coronavirus because it means more time with Rochelle and the girls.

“This is the longest I’ve had off in 10 years and I’m loving every minute,” he said. “My kids are a hoot. There’s now one else I’d rather be with.”

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