In Pittsburgh – Star Basketball Player and Coach Dies of Overdose

Chartiers Houston

Drug use started like a whisper…

Barb and Jerome “Jerry” Cypher spent years cheering their son Brendan on the basketball court. Jerry was the coach and Barb watched from the bleachers as Brendan broke 12 records while a student at Chartiers-Houston High School.

They continued to cheer him on when he followed Jerry’s lead, coaching Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and then becoming the youngest boys basketball coach in the WPIAL.

Brendan seemed to have it all.

Until March 15, 2010, the day Barb said “was the beginning of the end of our family as we know it.”

That fateful day, Brendan had been checked into a local hospital for an overdose, and his mother, who works as nurse, was stunned by the discharge notes. Brendan was prescribed: chloral hydrate, a sedative and hypnotic; Ritalin and Adderall, stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Valium, a sedative; Suboxone, a narcotic used to treat addiction, and Soma, a muscle relaxer.

“I have 15 drugs here that I can’t fathom why he was prescribed,” said Barb. “I said, ‘Brendan, you’re on Soma? Why would you be on Valium, Soma and these antipsychotic drugs?’”

In the end, his father believes that it Brendan’s self-confidence that caused him to lose his battle with drugs.

“He was a hard worker. He’ll outwork his opponent. With that, you get a little success, and then the ego steps in, invincibility steps in, and they’re all traps,” he said. “I think that part of Brendan’s problem was his ego. He probably thought he could handle it. Whatever he wanted to achieve, he did it. He wanted to be the youngest coach in the state: He did it. He wanted a master’s degree: He did it. Everything he put his nose to – athletes have egos and when you have an ego, you’re the most vulnerable. Because you think you can conquer and win because you’ve experienced so much success, you think you’re invincible.”

Brendan’s invincibility came to an end on April 28, 2014 after he had just gone to the methadone clinic for the second time to get help with his opioid addiction. His family now believes that, stressed about his interview, he took too much Xanax. When taken together, the drugs can cause depression of the central nervous system with a resulting decrease in respiration, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“He didn’t fall. He laid peacefully down And that was the end.”

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