Arizona Basketball

Former Arizona Wildcats star Kerr admits he used marijuana to alleviate back pain


Arizona Wildcats legend Steve Kerr, in his third season as the Golden State Warriors’ head coach, said on a CSN Bay Area podcast published today that he smoked marijuana to alleviate the pain in his back that he experienced over the last year.

“Maybe I could even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried (marijuana) twice during the last year and a half when I’ve been going through this pain, this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said in the podcast.

Kerr, who starred with the Arizona Wildcats from 1983-88, underwent back surgery last season, causing him to miss nearly the first half of last season. He still suffers from complications from that procedure.

Steve Kerr admits he tried marijuana to help with his back pain but says it's not for him. (Photo by Steve Rivera/

Steve Kerr admits he tried marijuana to help with his back pain but says it’s not for him. (Photo by Steve Rivera/

He said in the podcast hosted by Monte Poole that he hopes pro sports leagues soften their stances on marijuana use, believing it is a potential alternative for treating pain, although it was not very favorable for him.

Before using marijuana, he said he did “a lot of research” and took “a lot of advice from people.”

“I have no idea if I would — maybe I would have failed a drug test,” Kerr said. “I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA, but I tried it, and it didn’t help at all.

“But it was worth it, because I’m searching for answers on pain. But I’ve tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds, as well, and those have been worse. It’s tricky.”

Although Kerr said he is “not a pot person … it doesn’t agree with me”, he can understand why some athletes, especially those in the NFL would use marijuana for pain treatment.

“If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don’t think there’s any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin,” Kerr said. “And yet, athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal. And there’s like this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine but pot is bad. Now, I think that’s changing.

“You’re seeing that change in these laws that you’re talking about in different states, including California. But I would just hope that sports leagues are able to look past the perception. I’m sure the NFL is worried that their fans are going to go, ‘All the players are potheads.'”

Kerr said he believe it is only a matter of time before bans on marijuana are lifted and accepted socially. He feels strongly that it would be more beneficial, rather than a suspect performance or health drug.

“Again, without being an expert on it, but I know enough, especially over the last couple of years having gone through my own bout with chronic pain, I know enough about this stuff,” he said. “Vicodin is not good for you. It’s not. It’s way worse for you than pot.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

To Top