Inspiring Oklahoma couples: How Jim and Robin Riley found a new life, purpose

Oklahoma's Most Inspiring Couples: From Super Bowl championship, addiction and strife to a new life and purpose, Jim and Robin Riley of Edmond say their journey was worth it.
BY DAVID ZIZZO Modified: October 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm •  Published: October 10, 2010

Robin's reaction this time: "Covering up, making excuses," she said. Robin and the wife of Jim's "drinking buddy" became friends, though. The two women started going to Alcoholics Anonymous, and Robin joined a Bible study group.

"It was God that kept our marriage together," she said. "Otherwise I would have left. I kept hoping that one of these days, James was going to be sober and be saved, and I was going to be there when it happened."

Her patience was not rewarded. "I was screaming and hollering," Jim recalled. "I actually went kind of nuts." Robin knew her husband also was cheating, "but I didn't want to think about it."

Her biggest fear was that Blake, a high school sophomore angered by his father's behavior, would have a physical confrontation with Jim. So, Robin went to the last-ditch tactic: an intervention.

It worked. Jim spent six weeks in rehab in Arizona. "I had finally learned how to be a real man," he said. "Our life really started when I got back home."

But the couple would be tested again in October 1989. Police officers came to their home to tell them Blake had died in a traffic accident. "I thought that was the end of my life," Jim said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, will I ever feel joy again?'"

But, with Robin's resolve, he said, the couple found their way. They attended a series of couples seminars and retreats, and demand was growing for Jim to speak about his career, his problems and the solutions he and Robin had found. The couple had found a calling.

While Jim was working with the national Sports World Ministries, Jim said, the Rileys realized, "You know, we can do this right here in Oklahoma." That was the beginning of Jim Riley Outreach. Today, the not-for-profit organization features a residential mentoring program for recovering addicts that houses dozens of men and women in four homes. With his sports "cred" and life experience, Jim, 65, is in demand as a speaker.

And the couple that once was lost had come full circle. "It's just worked out real special for us," said Jim. Added Robin, "We're best friends."

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EDITOR'S NOTE
Jim and Robin Riley are featured in the "Oklahoma's Most Inspiring Couples" 2010 calendar, sponsored by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. Couples featured in the calendar are being profiled in The Oklahoman's Life section each month. For more about the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative's inspiring couples, go to www.foreverforreal.com.

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