Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. When poet Robert Frost wrote those words, he was referring to the difficult decisions that life sometimes puts in front of us. Kevin Davis knows all about difficult decisions. And in the end, he made the right one. On Nov. 13 at Mariner Lanes, Davis threw the eighth-highest scratch series ever at a Hernando County bowling center. That accomplishment in itself would mean a great deal to any bowler. But Davis has not traveled the path of most bowlers. Davis, 45, of Brooksville, grew up in Michigan. He started ice skating when he was 3 years old and soon developed a passion for hockey. By the time he was 18, Davis was trying out for the Detroit Red Wings. By 19, he realized that a professional hockey career was not in his future.
Depressed, he went to work in a factory. And that's where he began to fall into the habits that would haunt him for the next 25 years. Co-workers drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and did cocaine. Davis soon became part of that crowd.
Throughout that time, Davis bowled. He had started at age 15. His mother was in a league, and she asked him to compete on her team. But he didn't find it very captivating.
Years later, while he was working in the factory, he started competing again in leagues. He eventually became quite good and tossed three perfect games, all while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
One night, he even came close to his greatest goal: an 800 series.
On Oct. 25, 2002 — and by his own admission, drinking heavily — Davis threw an opening game of 299, then followed it with a perfect game of 300. He said he stopped drinking before the final game to try to get the 800. But he fell apart with a 191 and ended up with a 790 pin total.
In May 2004, Davis' roommate decided to move to Florida. Because his parents spent most of their time in Arizona and nothing else was keeping him in Michigan, Davis decided to follow his friend. At the time, he was making his first attempt at trying to get sober.
After nine months, he broke down. Because he had no local connections for drugs, he relied on old ones. He made some phone calls. His previous drug dealer in Michigan sent some cocaine to Davis in the mail, tucked inside a birthday card.
At that point, Davis had taken a hiatus from bowling. Rock bottom had arrived.
In 2007, he was arrested in his driveway on charges of possession of cocaine. It was his second and final relapse. But something changed, he said, during the 33 days he spent in jail.
"To be honest with you, it was killing me," he said. "I didn't want that life."
Today, he talks openly about those dark years.
"If you're not willing to talk about this as an addict, you risk falling back into the same habits," he said.
Step by step, Davis said, he worked to build his life back up and now has been sober for 32 months. On Dec. 4, he celebrated his one-year anniversary as a full-time Department of Public Works employee with the city of Brooksville, another milestone in which he takes great pride. He now gives back to the community with his work at Hillside Community Baptist Church, east of Brooksville, and his bicycle ministry.
"If I can just inspire one person to stop (using drugs)," he said, "then I feel like I've accomplished something."
His comeback was missing one last accomplishment, though. Looking at his box of bowling awards one day at home, Davis said he was struck by the urge to get back on the lanes and achieve his 800 series.
"I tried to focus on bowling the way I used to focus on my addictions," he said. "Once I had been clean for a while, I really wanted to go back and give it a shot. I am really glad I did."
In his first season participating in leagues at Spring Hill and Mariner lanes, four months ago, he tossed an 844 series, marking his place in county history.
It's just one more thing that Davis says motivates him to maintain his sobriety, one day at a time.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.