AJ McLean is looking back on his struggles with addiction, and how an encounter with his 3-year-old daughter inspired him to get clean.
The Backstreet Boys crooner, who is now 10 months sober, speaks with PEOPLE about the devastating “rock bottom” moment he experienced in a new profile for the magazine’s upcoming issue. In the feature, McLean recounts devising a plan to acquire drugs before flying out to catch Shania Twain perform live in Las Vegas last year.
"Before I even got on the plane, I had already mapped out the whole night,” he recalled. “I knew where I was going to go get my drugs. I knew where I was going to go get drunk. I knew all of it and I figured, 'Okay, it's one night. As long as I don't go past a certain time and I don't smell like it, I can go have a nice last hurrah and then come back home. My wife won't know; everything's going to be great.’”
After what all transpired, the Dancing with the Stars contestant remembers that he “never slept” and “missed my first two flights back home” to his wife Rochelle and their two children, daughters Ava, 6, and Lyric. Worse, McLean admitted he “reeked of alcohol” when he returned to his family.
“My wife and I had always had this agreement, which was, if I smelled like alcohol, I wasn't allowed to play with my kids — I couldn't be around my kids,” he added. “But what really hit me was the moment, my youngest daughter Lyric said to me that night, 'You don't smell like my daddy.' And when she said that to me, that was it. Enough said. I felt disgusting.”
Although the singer confessed to experiencing “many rock bottoms” in his life, he described his encounter with Lyric as “my moment of surrender.”
“That was the moment I dropped to my knees and I said, 'God, I cannot do this on my own. I can't. I have tried and I have failed miserably. So help a brother out.’”
Since that life-changing moment, McLean has led a life of sobriety with help from his sponsor, whom he checks in with six times a day in addition to attending daily online 12-step meetings.
Photo: Getty Images