From prison to the Olympics to opening pH Wellness, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Riverside – With Tony Hoffman

RIVERSIDE, Calif., — Sober since 2007 and paroled from prison in 2008 after being convicted for a 2004 armed home invasion robbery, Tony Hoffman refused to allow the stigma of his former homelessness and drug addiction to control his future. Rather than dwell on the failures of his past, he instead decided to use his personal experiences, setbacks, and life traumas to help others facing similar difficulties in their lives with the opening of pH Wellness, a new drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility nestled on four beautiful acres in the orange grove covered hills of Riverside, in Southern California.

Now an internationally known motivational speaker, Tony today is one of the most requested substance abuse speakers in the country, traveling more than 200 days a year to share his inspiring story with various audiences. He has been a featured TEDx presenter, and in 2020 created a GoalCast video that has since gone on to be viewed and shared more than twelve million times worldwide. In addition to his other accomplishments and achievements, Tony is continuing to work on a book, ‘From Prison to the Olympics – The Tony Hoffman Story’, which he hopes to have published soon.

Already the Founder and Director of The Freewheel Project, a non-profit organization that mentors thousands of youths through action sports, and following years of planning and preparation, on Thursday, March 31, the former Elite pro BMX racer turned Olympic coach will be celebrating the Open House and Ribbon-Cutting of pH Wellness. With representatives from the offices of Congressman Mark Takano and City of Riverside Mayor Patricia Dawson, along with other dignitaries scheduled to attend and speak, the Open House will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., with the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. 


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As a native of Clovis, California, Tony’s BMX career started in high school, and he was soon a top-ranked BMX amateur with multiple professional endorsements.

However, he had started drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and using prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin by his senior year. Addicted at such a young age, Tony’s life took a turn for the worse and he soon found himself homeless and strung out.

Then, in 2004, with his life continuing to spiral out of control, Tony committed an armed home invasion robbery. Found guilty, he was ultimately sent to prison in 2007.

After paroling from prison in 2008, and with his addiction behind him, Tony began the long and difficult process of turning his life around and started living out his dream of re-entering the competitive world of BMX racing.

Having placed 2nd in the Masters Pro class at the 2016 World Championships in Medellin, Colombia, Tony Hoffman was well on his way to achieving his dreams of competing in the Olympics when he suffered a career-ending knee injury. photo courtesy pH Wellness

Although initially shunned upon his return to the BMX racing circuit, Tony slowly began his rise back to stardom and eventually went on to compete as an Elite Pro, ultimately placing 2nd in the Masters Pro class at the 2016 World Championships in Medellin, Colombia.

Although his primary goal in life at the time was to eventually compete in the Olympics, his Olympic dreams were crushed when he suffered a career-ending knee injury.

Despite the setback, Tony never gave up his hopes to participate in the Olympics and was rewarded for his efforts when he was tapped to coach Women’s Elite Pro, Brooke Crain, who went on to place 4th at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Tony Hoffman is seen with Brooke Crain, after coaching her to a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. photo courtesy pH Wellness

Tony says his triumphant journey through homelessness, mental health struggles, drug abuse, and prison, followed by his personal rise to sports stardom and his coaching during the Olympic Games eventually led to him wanting to open his own alcohol and drug treatment facility, with the mission of “combining fitness and career placement opportunities with conventional recovery practices to increase long-term recovery outcomes”.

Tony says he believes pH Wellness will accomplish this mission with their “unique sobriety models and never before seen advanced career development and placement program.”

He points out that by using evidence-based, dual diagnosis programs with Masters and Doctoral level clinicians trained in trauma and addiction, providing access to local psychiatric services to address co-occurring disorders, comprehensive 12-step work – with groups or meetings onsite daily, free access to fitness centers and personal trainers, and advanced career placement, pH Wellness will be able to truly help those desiring to see a real change in their lives.

Regarding the scheduled opening of pH Wellness, Tony says some of his main goals are to bring about better addiction and mental health awareness around the country and to help others understand just how dangerous prescription pill and illicit drug abuse are, while also advocating for a shift in thinking toward current addiction-recovery processes.

Although he says the path to where he is now was not an easy one and that his life has seen “some of the highest highs and the lowest lows”, opening his own treatment facility has been one of the most rewarding projects he has ever been involved with.

Tony says it was his own struggles with homelessness and mental health issues, along with substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors, that ultimately led him to making the decision to help others as they battle their way through their own addictions and problems. photo courtesy pH Wellness

Tony believes that every person struggling with addiction has untreated life traumas and having been in and out of therapy since 2012, he says his own path to sobriety and “deeper work on self” has helped him to better understand not only his own trauma but the traumas of others he’s worked with during his time of sobriety.

According to Tony, the lack of knowledge about how to heal from these traumas can create a mental health struggle that often causes a shift in behavior where substance use is the first effective coping mechanism the person finds.

“The unfortunate reality is the substances which are used as coping mechanisms also create the addictions that are destructive; not only to themselves but eventually to everything and everyone around them,” he explains, saying their inability to make healthy choices oftentimes results in their lives spiraling out of control. 

Understanding that when specific types of traumas are left untreated and how they become the foundational reason for many individuals to begin using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, Tony says his own personal life lessons ultimately led him to want to bring better understanding to the nation’s homeless and narcotics epidemics and how we as a society need to shift our thinking about the crisis. 

Pictured from pH Wellness Centers, (from left to right), are Brian Donegan, Director of Outreach & Admissions; Dr. Angela McMahon; Tony Hoffman, Owner; Dr Blair Steele, Program Director; and Matt Paz, Co-Owner.

Brian Donegan, pH Wellness Centers Director of Outreach & Admissions, went on to say, “There seems to be a stigma around addiction treatment programs in Riverside,” adding that pH Wellness is different and intends to prove how they can be “good stewards” to the community “by incorporating therapy, health and fitness, community support groups, and a unique career training program followed by potential placement with stable high paying jobs.”

“While other treatment programs in the area have traditionally been more state-funded types with antiquated modalities and accepting of potentially dangerous clients that have been a concern to the community, we intend to show how a cutting-edge program with advanced therapies and career placement can help the community while lowering property crime, never burdening our neighbors, and not allowing anything that would interfere with the serenity of the neighborhood,” he continued.

For more information about tomorrow’s Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Open House, to be held March 31 at their new location at 7603 Dufferin Avenue, in Riverside, visit pH Wellness.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Both are stringer organizations, providing breaking news coverage and community interest stories for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

One comment

  • Terri Hoffman Lamp

    Tony is my nephew and I can still hear his dad saying to me,” I guess we’ll just have to figure out where to bury him.”
    I have watched him, literally, go from prison to the Olympics!! I couldn’t be happier with all that he’s accomplished.