Tragic Details About Jake The Snake Roberts

Tragic Details About Jake The Snake Roberts

Jake “The Snake” Roberts, born Aurelian Smith
Jr., has entertained millions of wrestling fans with his creepy antics, giant snake,
and top-notch mullet. He’s an ’80s WWF icon, just as much as Hulk
Hogan or Randy Savage. But the Snake’s life story has been tragic
from the start. Early in his life, Jake had to deal with his
grandmother dying of cancer, his beloved stepfather being electrocuted to death, and constant
abuse from his stepmother. Roberts also endured the tragic death of a
sibling. The reason why haunts Jake to this day. As Jake recalled in the documentary Jake the
Snake Roberts: Pick Your Poison, he had a sister, whose name he didn’t disclose. After a childhood full of abuse, she ran off
with a 55-year-old man when she was just 18. According to Roberts, a year after his sister
left, she had a child with this older man. Then the man’s ex-wife showed up, kidnapped
Jake’s sister, and killed her. Unfortunately, the courts could never prove
a crime took place since they never found the body, meaning the ex-wife only got ten
years in prison on the kidnapping charge. Once released, she and her ex collected the
money from Jake’s sister’s life insurance and ran off together. Jake funneled all the tragedy into his untrustworthy
character. As he explained, “I never wanted you to trust me.” As Jake recounted in an interview with Slam
Sports, he rarely saw his father, pro wrestler Grizzly Smith, more than a couple times a
year, because the old man was always on the road. Plus, Smith never bothered telling his son
that wrestling is staged. As far as Jake was concerned, his father was
always on the brink of getting killed in the ring because his opponent was out for blood. After graduating high school, Roberts attended
one of Smith’s matches and decided to challenge another wrestler. Jake, untrained and drunk, got battered and
stretched worse than he’d ever been. After the ordeal, his father laid into him,
calling him “gutless,” and telling him “you’ll never amount to anything.” Such callousness motivated Jake to pursue
wrestling full-time to show his dad how wrong he was. He also hoped to, one day, finally hear his
dad say he was proud of him. Sadly, it never happened. Knowing what Jake’s gone through, it’s little
surprise that Roberts eventually turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with his difficult
life. While most fans know he’s been an addict since
at least the ’90s, the truth is he started much earlier, long before anyone knew who
he was. Roberts says he started drinking at age 11,
around 1966. He began wrestling in 1975, and the drinking
only escalated from there. What’s more, once on the road full-time, he
added drugs to the mix, even doing speed on occasion. But alcohol was his biggest, and most damaging,
vice by far. As he put it, “…it no longer became a choice to [drink]. It was a necessity. I was in a bad mood and underproductive and
wouldn’t, couldn’t get up off the couch unless I had something to drink.” Despite all that, he had an image to uphold,
since he portrayed a good guy for much of his WWF tenure. He posed for a “Just say no to drugs” poster,
even if he couldn’t say no himself. As he told Salon, “I felt nasty doing that poster, but you do
what you’re told sometimes.” Sadly, few if any higher-ups told him to get
help until it was almost too late. How’s this for irony: Jake “The Snake” Roberts
— a guy famous for carrying humongous pythons to the ring, often on his shoulders — admitted
to Sports Illustrated in 2015 that he, quote, “can’t stand snakes.” And yet, there he was hanging around with
a 12-foot python called Damien night in and night out. Damien, to put it mildly, kicked his butt. As he told one website, “Carrying that 100-pound snake around was
brutal on my body.” Between weeks’ worth of clothes, wrestling
gear, and the giant snake, it’s quite possible Jake’s body was hurt more by traveling than
getting thrown around the ring. It’s little wonder he preferred working with
Lucifer, the devenomized king cobra he wielded when he was a bad guy. Cobras may be scary, but they only weigh 15
pounds. Jake dealt with this fear every night because
he saw his snake as a wall to keep people from learning too much about the man behind
the slithery creature. As he told SI, “The snake was something to hide behind. […] Everyone was scared of the snake, and
that’s exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want anyone to get close to me. I wanted everyone to be afraid of me.” According to the Pick Your Poison documentary,
after Jake left WWF in 1992, he and WCW agreed to a mega-deal worth up to $3 million per
year. He never saw that money. Shortly after agreeing to the contract, WCW
hired a former wrestler named Bill Watts to run the place. Watts voided Jake’s contract, forcing him
to sign for $200,000 per year. While that’s certainly enough to feed most
families, it’s a slap in the face when you were just promised 15 times that amount. “Either you take a pay cut, or go and look
for another job.” During a panel at Tidewater Comicon, Jake
revealed why Watts did it. Apparently, Watts had a deal with WCW where
he made a percentage of the money he saved the company, so he was cutting down contracts
left and right, including Jake’s. For that, and presumably for other reasons,
Roberts called Watts a, quote, “sorry piece of s–t” without “a good bone in his body.” It’s little wonder Jake left WCW in 1993. Still, it might’ve been a blessing in disguise:
If he was drinking that much on a mediocre salary, he probably wouldn’t have survived
with more money to buy booze. Until the late ’90s, fans had no clue how
bad Jake Roberts’ personal demons truly were. That all changed thanks to events like Heroes
of Wrestling, a pay-per-view that exposed the hopelessness of Jake the Snake’s situation. Roberts was set to wrestle Jim Neidhart, but
a pre-match interview, he showed he was in no condition to wrestle. “You wanna play 21? I got 22. You wanna play blackjack? I got two of those, too.” He was so drunk he could barely stand up. He was no better in the ring, forcing fans
to rub his bare chest, pretending his snake was his genitals, and stumbling around the
ring while barely acknowledging anything Neidhart did. Things got so awkward and bad, the promoter
had to send two other wrestlers out to make it a tag team match, simply so Roberts didn’t
embarrass himself any further. It didn’t really work, as Jake attempted to
end the show by stuffing Damien down another man’s trousers, head-first. The crew faded the show to black immediately,
proving they had more sense than whoever allowed Roberts to even attempt wrestling in the state
he was in. You might think embarrassing himself in front
of a TV audience would be the wake-up call Roberts needed to turn his life around, but
you’d be wrong. As it turns out, he needed it to happen again
before change could start. In 2008, Roberts was booked against indie
wrestler JT Lightning at a Firestorm Pro Wrestling event, but as TMZ reported, he was done long
before hitting the ring. He was apparently passed out in the locker
room, with mere moments to go before he was set to wrestle. More than 20 bottles of airplane vodka were
littered all around him. After being woken up and angrily demanding
an 8-ball, Roberts stumbled into the arena and began mumbling at both the fans and Lightning. The actual match lasted maybe a minute. After Snake stumbled to the mat, an exasperated
Lightning forcefully held him down for an unscripted three-count. He said Lightning had ripped off all the fans
who paid to see him. Roberts responded by flashing the crowd, punching
a wall, breaking his hand, and running out into the streets crying. The Snake had truly hit bottom, and even then
it would take four more years before he found the help that would save his life. When your life is mostly drugs and alcohol
seasoned with a little wrestling, you’re probably running afoul of the law every now and again. In Jake’s case, he and the law had a long-running
feud that wasn’t nearly as fun as his WWF rivalries. In May 1989, Roberts was arrested at a WWF
show and charged with aggravated battery. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he punched
out a man in a Florida bar the previous December. He was ultimately found guilty and sentenced
to ten years’ probation. Luckily for him, an appellate court concluded
Roberts’ lawyer hadn’t done an adequate job and nullified the verdict. That was just the start of Roberts’ legal
woes. In 2004, he got nabbed on animal cruelty charges. Allegedly, the python playing Damien at the
time didn’t eat for months, as Roberts had kept him in a tank and left him there. By the time animal cruelty inspectors discovered
Damien, it was too late, and the snake died shortly after. Sadly, this is what can happen when someone
who hates snakes is in charge of one. The following year, Roberts was arrested on
charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, specifically a crack pipe. Cops also got him on an outstanding 1999 warrant
for unpaid child support. Thankfully, Roberts has kept his nose clean
since then, at least in the eyes of the law. Nobody knows what else he’s gotten away with
except Jake himself. After all he’s been through, it’s shocking
Jake Roberts isn’t dead. But he’s thriving, because 60 years of misery
was apparently his limit. By 2012, Roberts was a total mess. He weighed well over 300 pounds and could
barely walk. At that point his savior arrived: Diamond
Dallas Page, an ex-wrestler whom Roberts had trained years earlier. Not wanting to see his trainer and friend
waste away any longer, Page pitched his DDP Yoga program, hoping to get Roberts back in
shape and discipline him enough to stay sober. Jake, perhaps finally sick of his old life,
gave the program a shot. Between the DDP Yoga program and actually
eating real food for once, he dropped 40 pounds in just a few months and dedicated himself
entirely to his new lifestyle. As he told Newsday, “We’re changing the oil, we’re changing the
headlights, we’re changing the damn tires, everything. And it’s going to be a long journey. But I’m excited.” It’s paid off immensely, as WWE fans saw for
themselves in early 2014. Roberts appeared unannounced on WWE Raw and
looked to be in phenomenal shape. He had dropped enough weight that he looked
largely like he did in the ’80s, minus the mullet, and appeared lucid as could be. Several years later, he’s still in great shape,
and is growing back the mullet to boot. It’s a sign that, at long last, he’s ready
to live the good life he’s always deserved. As further proof that Roberts is finally healthy,
both physically and mentally, he dealt with a pair of setbacks in 2014 that could’ve either
killed him or made him fall off the wagon, but he beat them both and is still around
and in prime form today. Early that year, Roberts told TMZ he had a
cancerous tumor behind his knee that would require surgery. But he seemed as optimistic as ever: “If the devil can’t defeat me, cancer doesn’t
stand a chance in hell!” After surgery and recovery, he was just fine. Later that year, he came down with double
pneumonia. It was severe enough that he lost consciousness
in the hospital several times, but he wasn’t interested in dying or giving up. According to Dallas Page, he cared more about
missing appearances or letting down fans. The Snake’s still here, so clearly he beat
it. All signs point to the tragic part of Jake’s
life story being over, and it being a happier one from here on out. Hopefully that story will involve at least
a few more DDTs and snakes slithering around the ring before it’s done. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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96 Replies to “Tragic Details About Jake The Snake Roberts”

  1. Jake the snake will always be remembered in the hearts of a lot of people for being the great entertainer he is and always will be…

  2. I felt sorry for him up until you said what he did to his snake, Damien. That snake was as much of his wrestling career as he was, and for him to just starve it to death is wrong.

  3. So he didn’t like snakes and yet he packed that 100 pound bastard around for decades. Fame & money will make you do crazy things.

  4. It really felt like he had a rough life but when you starve an animal, one who made your career and make no amends for it, did you really even have a heart. Glad hes doing better but that man has no right to be near any animal.

  5. Good overview, but it's hard to know Jake's complex life in 11 minutes. If you want to really get to know him, including the parental sexual abuse that created some of his demons, sit with him for a couple hours via Joe Rogan. I was glad I did.

  6. His persona, soundtrack, and DDT are legendary. And then he had Damian in his corner! Gritty and greasy all the way. One of the best.

  7. I rejoice in Jake Roberts success! It takes an immense amount of strength to come back from the truly darkest of the dark. Of course I give Diamond Dallas Page such immense praise for giving such time and effort to helping his friend, for its admirable in that alone. More people should have friends like that.

  8. What he did to Damien was fucked up and wrong… It was, but at the time Jake was a fucking addict. Just like addict parents who neglect their children. It's a terrible thing and they are terrible people but once clean and healthy.. they are not that person anymore. Love this guy! One of the GOAT.

  9. I guess my brother was right. When we were kids he thought Jake is a very special person. I was into Randy Savage however watching this document Jake is a special person and very talented guy. Just sad what the booze did to him though.

  10. No matter what, he is the coolest charecter. The best gimmick, and coolest finishing move. DDT. His eyes like that of a snake, his methodical interviews. This man is one of the best wrestlers to never be World champion. Trust me.

  11. Jake is a miracle walking because he could have been another sad wrestling statistic. DDP is the man for sobering him up to the realities of just how close he was to not being here. I'm hoping he has many more good years because the man is hilarious to listen to when it comes to his stories of life on the road.

  12. Jake has always been one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. I definitely looked up to him throughout my childhood, Luckily I never new about these challeneges he had and I just saw a hero. He still is to me and I'm so happy he's doing so much better.

  13. Lol not tragic. he chose the life of an entertainer and he entertained us. Sorry he wanted to make his daddy proud and had his issues so he turned to booze and things…not really tragic, just life. He was an icon though, the most I got out of this is that he was afraid of snakes…thats interesting.

  14. when Jake the Snake was gone that was dead for me still is. So raw you fucking suck just act's real man sport is UFC and boxing. Speedo's with fake ass move's. Only one's I like is the diva's like come on wrap their leg's around my head. Only difference is the diva's can have no cloth's on and throw me around on the bed baby.

  15. then again what is the best sport to get away with murder boxing. Best way to give them a K.O light's out. Where they might never ever get back up. And No offense to Big show honestly I don't know why he followed his dad foot step's. I think he be better off in boxing not even heavy weight could stand a chance a against him. I bet he could hit some one out of a ring with one punch.

  16. Jake The Snake Roberts Voice:Trust Me Trust Me Trust Me….Jake the snake Roberts trust me theme plays….do you trust me? Do you trust me….the trust me theme by Jake the snake was dark creepy and spooky….also salute and respect to DDP for saving Jake the snakes life and prayers and blessings to jake the snake…get well soon and blessings….

  17. Shawn Michaels is the greatest wrestler of all time!! I had the honor of being his server here in San Antonio and that was the greatest day of my life.

  18. I would love to meet him in person I know we would have a lot to talk about Jake Godbless and keep going love the Smile

  19. He was a drunken druggie smart ass joke . Believe me , what a hypocrite he was Jed . Don't let anyone bullshit ya he was all that but if he changed that would be good . Really liked the whores too !


  21. His brother was a substitute teacher at my high school back in the day. He went by "Mr. Roberts." I wonder why he didn't go by "Mr. Smith?"

  22. i feel for him but havein a difficult life is no excuse for turning to drugs and alcohol .that will only hurt the people who love you

  23. Glad he beat his demons but he took it out on the snakes to the point the snakes starved to death or disease killed them and he would black out but now he can help others not get to the point he got to and we will remember how he ended rather then middle.

  24. Wow the old man even collected her life insurance and went back to ex wife?! Plus the fact she was the last person to see her alive when she kidnapped her should be enough to convict her

  25. My fav wrestler on wwf was none other than the man from stone mountain georgia, jake the snake….i had a good size trampoline growing up, and all my friends would wrestle on it,….of course i was jake roberts…..RIP

  26. Mr.Jack the Snake Roberts don't care who you really are but you are &will always Jack the Snake Roberts to a little kid Love always ??

  27. Jake the Snake Roberts is the quintessential bad man of wrestling. I love him! His demons are a part of him. They make him what he is.

  28. I Love Jake Roberts his promos intensity was awesome I knew all this already but it’s always good to reminded as to why Roberts was such a good promo and troubled soul

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