About 20 years ago, Clint Fair was a senior in high school getting ready to attend the senior prom.
The excitement for him wasn’t hanging out with friends — it was preparing for the afterparty.
And that party mentality stayed with him until a terrible car accident while in college at Georgia Southern University.
"I’m 37 years old, but 20 years ago, I was fixing to go to prom," said Fair, to a group of juniors and seniors on Tuesday at West Hall High School. "I couldn’t wait to go, take my girlfriend and get drunk, get high and go to prom. Seriously, that’s what I thought about. I thought the same thing, that it was just a game. But let me tell you how serious it is. Because the chances are if you are thinking that way, you’ve got a problem with drugs and alcohol just like I did."
Fair, a former standout baseball player at Johnson High School, had a substance abuse problem throughout his teen years and college. The drunk driving accident he caused killed a father of two in Statesboro. He was convicted in 1994 and spent 35 months in jail.
"I go pulling out into the road, going to another party, and as I pull out onto the road, I cross over the yellow line," he said to the students. "And coming down on the other side of the road is a man that was minding his own business; our trucks hit, head-on collision and he died instantly. I took his life because of bad choices."
Over 10 years ago, Fair turned his life around and now spends his time as a father, husband, youth pastor at Air Line Baptist Church in Gainesville, an assistant with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a community coach at East Hall High School.
He has made it his mission to help youngsters have a relationship with Christ and not make the same decisions he made. When he spoke at West Hall, just days before prom, he urged kids not to experiment with drugs or alcohol.
"When I was 13, I had a major intersection in my life," Fair said. "On a Friday night before an eighth-grade football game, I spent the night with three of my buddies. There were four of us there and the parents went to sleep, and one of the guys said ‘let’s go downstairs and get a drink.’
"I made a terrible choice because I went right downstairs with ’em and I took my first drink, and I got drunk that night at 13. I was an alcoholic right then and right there."
Fair said his partying led to marijuana, prescription pills and crystal meth in high school.
"I’m trying anything. Anything thrown in front of me I would try," he said. "God blessed me with talent athletically, and I was able to do some pretty special things despite all those bad choices."
But those bad choices have led Fair to the life he leads today, spreading the gospel and being a devoted Christian working with FCA.
"The opportunity to get in front of young people, FCA is a win-win," he said. "It involves athletics, which is tremendous, it involves students, athletes ... but most importantly you put those two together and I get to share Christ with them."
West Hall principal Jackie Adams was assistant principal at JHS when Fair was in high school. She said it is great to see Fair and others get involved with local students.
"I think he delivered a strong message to them, and it certainly gives kids something to think about and I thought it was very good that he would reach out to kids," Adams said. "It’s wonderful to see people in our community reaching out to the young people. We like to think that kids will just make the right decisions but it helps to ground them."