/Tatum ONeal Reveals She Almost Died After Having A Stroke In 2020

Tatum ONeal Reveals She Almost Died After Having A Stroke In 2020

Tatum O’Neal and her family are opening up about the health crisis she experienced more than three years ago.

In a new interview with People, the actor revealed she had a drug overdose as well as a stroke that left her in a coma for six weeks in 2020.

“I almost died,” O’Neal said. “I’ve been through a lot.”

According to the report, a friend found O’Neal ― who had overdosed on a combination of pain medication, opiates and morphine ― in her Century City, California, apartment in May 2020.

“It was the phone call we’d always been waiting for,” O’Neal’s son, Kevin McEnroe, added. “She also had a cardiac arrest and a number of seizures. There were times we didn’t think she was going to survive.”

She was rushed to a local hospital, where she fell into a coma and was diagnosed with aphasia. According to the National Institutes of Health, aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language.

Tatum O'Neal in 2017.
Tatum O’Neal in 2017.

Paul Archuleta via Getty Images

McEnroe believes the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic had taken an emotional toll on O’Neal prior to her hospitalization. At times, he and his siblings Emily and Sean feared their mother would not live, or be unable to recover.

“At times, it was touch and go,” McEnroe said. “I had to call my brother and sister and say she was thought to be blind, deaf and potentially might never speak again.”

Since her hospitalization, O’Neal has worked to regain her strength and her memory in various rehabilitation facilities. She’s also in recovery for her drug addiction, and has been regularly attending 12-step meetings.

“I’ve been trying to get sober my whole life,” she told People. “Every day, I am trying.”

Now 59, O’Neal catapulted to fame when she starred opposite her father, Ryan O’Neal, in the 1973 film “Paper Moon.” Her portrayal of Addie Loggins won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress the following year when she was just 10 years old. She remains the youngest Oscar winner in history.

O'Neal at the 1974 Academy Awards, where she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
O’Neal at the 1974 Academy Awards, where she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Ron Galella via Getty Images

From 1986 to 1994, O’Neal was married to tennis legend John McEnroe. The couple’s marriage was the source of intense tabloid scrutiny and marked by accusations of drug abuse and violence. Four years after the divorce, she lost custody of her children due to a heroin addiction.

Acknowledging that she’s been “an addict my whole life, pretty much on and off, for the past 30 to 40 years,” O’Neal said her 2020 health scare has given her a renewed sense of purpose.

“Every day I am trying,” she said. “I want to be with my beautiful three kids.”

Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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