Dad Living Double Life Leaves Family. 30 Years Later, He Comes Back


How does spiritual intervention work? Is there a loud booming voice we hear in our heads? Does a particular piece of art speak to us? Or is it just an impression, that quietly but solidly communications with us?

For Nick Sidebottom, known as Pops, it was a still small voice that spoke to him through a Christian television program. He was in the middle of dealing drugs and the voice said, “You need to get in.”

“It wasn’t like a voice booming at me or anything,” Pops said. But he felt the call, and he checked himself into rehab at Union Rescue Mission homeless shelter in Los Angeles, California, in 2009.

This turning point came during Pop’s nearly lifelong struggle with addition. He was abused by his father during his formative years, and took his first hit of cocaine when he was 15.

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He was erratic and impulsive, earning himself the nickname of “Animal” Sidebottom early on. He linked up with an older man in his 40s, and together the two of them planned and carried out multiple robberies and other criminal activity.

Pops reminisced, “I met my wife in 1968. She had joy. She sparkled and laughed easily. She was everything I wanted in a woman. I adopted her two sons and we had two daughters of our own together. But I couldn’t stay clean.”

In 1980, he abandoned his family to follow his addiction and had no contact with them for the next 30 years. At one point, he was dealing not only heroine, but also marijuana and cocaine all across the United States.

Pops explains, “I led two lives. One with my family and the other one the wild man.

My wife asked me one time, she said, ‘Honey, if I told you that I was gonna leave, and you had to either give me up or your addiction up, what would you do?’ And I said, ‘I’ll see you later, baby.’”

By 2012, he had graduated from the Christian Life Discipleship Program. After graduation, he passionately worked alongside the men and women there.

Pops isn’t the only one who was able to kick an addiction. Although not as serious, Prince Henry also was reportedly able to quit smoking for his loved one.

In August 2013, Pops had reconnected with his family via Facebook and was able to fly to Tuscon, Arizona, and reunite with them.

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He reflected on the visit, saying, “I’m not scared of much, but I was scared of that visit. I wasn’t sure how they’d react. But when we met in the airport, I broke down weeping, then they started crying, and we were hugging on each other.

“I tried to apologize for the last 30 years, but my son said, ‘That’s yesterday. This is today. Now we have a brand-new future to walk through together.’”

He also used his experience and powerful conversion story to help others in need. “I can help anyone struggling with drugs,” he said. “But I don’t want to just get them off drugs, I want to lead them to the Lord.”

Alex Sidebottom passed away on April 26, 2015, from a longterm illness. His legacy at Union Rescue Mission will continue to be an inspiration to all the lives of those he touched, and also those that came after him.

But Sidebottom will probably be remembered most tenderly by his family who had the courage to show him active forgiveness and enjoyed those last few years of his life with him.

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A proud reference librarian at San Diego Law Library, Havilah is a recent graduate from iSchool at San Jose State University with her master's in library and information science.
A proud reference librarian at San Diego Law Library, Havilah is a recent graduate from iSchool at San Jose State University with her master's in library and information science. She is passionate about writing and education, and most recently created content for the iStudent blog at SJSU. She is also on the board at SANDALL, a chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries, currently serving as secretary.