Cledus T. Judd had $1,500 of cocaine in one pocket and $2,500 in cash in the other.
Ten minutes after his daughter was born, he went to the hospital bathroom to get high and leaned over the sink.
“I raised up, and there was the ugliest person I’d ever seen in my life looking at me, and it was me,” he said of his reflection. “I thought, ’Boy, you’re a sorry (jerk) after just helping give birth to what you said has been your dream your whole life, which was being a daddy. The wrath of God came down on me, and I took the cocaine, and I threw it in the toilet.”
Judd has been drug-free for the last 17 years.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” he said. “The love of my child was stronger than my love of the addiction, but that’s not the case for eight out of 10 addicts.”
Judd dipped into his personal experience for his new song and viral video “Kid In Trouble.” He weaved a narrative from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy who was tenuously navigating life around his addict of a father.
The video, shot in Judd’s home, opens with footage of a man shooting up as his son gently knocks on the other side of the bathroom door.
The song was born from a livestream when Judd saw songwriter Craig Martin perform a version of “Kid in Trouble.”
Judd wanted to customize the song for himself and reached out to Martin for permission – he gave his blessing. Unfortunately, Martin died before the men were able to co-write the song together. A year later, Judd went back to Martin’s son and asked if it was OK for him to work on his daddy’s song.
“I said, ’I’m and try to bring some awareness to addiction and mental illness,'” he explained. “His son was so kind and said, ’Absolutely.'”
Judd sings: But I’m a kid in trouble | Helping Mama with this farm | While Daddy puts the money somewhere halfway up his arm | If I could change everything | I’d do it on the double | But right now I’m just a kid in trouble.
The song and video resonated with country music fans. In less than one week, the video for “Kid in Trouble” accumulated more than 1 million views, 15,000 shares and 1,300 comments on Facebook. Video views have since grown to more than 1.4 million.
“I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t save all the people,” Judd said. “Someone asked me the other day if I would do that first line of cocaine all over again. I said, ’Absolutely, I would.’ Kind of like Jesus, I took one for the team. Jesus took one for all of us. If I had to become an addict to be able to get clean and help addicts, I would do it the same way.”