The coach called the drug court "phenomenal" and said the support from those in the program "gave Britt hope."
It has been two years and four months since Britt Reid flashed a gun at another driver in a road-rage incident in West Conshohocken and was found to have small amounts of cocaine and marijuana in his truck.
What came next was a roller coaster of criminal charges, court appearances, bail violations, drug-rehabilitation programs, and media frenzy. His older brother, Garrett, was battling drugs and criminal charges as well.
O'Neill told the crowded courtroom that the program focused on treatment and recovery. The change, he said, comes slowly.
In Britt Reid, the change was evident.
He has gained weight since his sentencing in November 2007, and no longer looks gaunt and sullen. He moved easily through the courtroom, shaking hands.
"I am just happy," he said. "It has been a long road, not necessarily an easy road."
His father and his mother, Tammy, joined everyone in the courtroom in giving the graduates a standing ovation.
Britt Reid was arrested the same day Garrett Reid ran his black Jeep Liberty SUV through a red light in Plymouth Township, crashed into another car, and seriously injured a Northumberland County woman. Garrett Reid acknowledged using heroin before the accident.
While free on bail and awaiting sentencing for the road-rage incident, Britt Reid failed a sobriety test after he drove into a shopping cart in a Plymouth Meeting parking lot. A highly addictive prescription drug, Vicodin, was found in his car. His bail was revoked.
When sentencing them 11/2 years ago, O'Neill scolded both Reids for not taking responsibility for their lives and recoveries.
At that time, it was disclosed that Garrett Reid had smuggled pills into the Montgomery County jail. He pleaded guilty to the smuggling and is serving a two-year sentence in a state corrections program for drug treatment. Last month, he tested positive for narcotics when he returned to a halfway house from a furlough. He is now in the state prison in Chester.
Britt Reid entered Montgomery County's intensive drug program in February 2008 after his jail time. At the start, he faced random drug testing four times a week. He also had to attend individual and group counseling and 12-step meetings and had to check in daily by phone.
O'Neill calls his program the "hardest drug rehab anywhere."
During the program, Reid began working at Carlino's Speciality Foods & Catering in Ardmore, and he now attends Montgomery County Community College. He also helps coach football at St. Joseph's Preparatory School.
When Reid entered the program, O'Neill told him last night, he was a "lost kid caught in a firestorm fueled by addiction," but now he was a strong, committed, confident man.
O'Neill pointed out that Reid was one of the few to complete the program without missing an appointment and invited him back to mentor others.
O'Neill gave all the graduates a handshake, a big hug, a coffee mug, and a certificate of completion.
Reid said that this was not the end of his recovery - he is still on probation for a year - and that he had to keep improving as a person.
"Change is possible, no matter what," he said.
His parents, he said, "had my back the whole way. They never doubted me."
Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or firstname.lastname@example.org.