JaMarcus Russell Arrested for 'Purple Drank' Drug

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 06, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Here now, a very short list of some of the dangerous controlled substances that keep the DEA working overtime: heroin, crack, powdered cocaine ... cough syrup. That is correct, the very active ingredient in prescription cough syrup, codeine, has become a key part of the recreational and illegal cocktail known as "purple drank," and drinking purple drank can get you arrested, as it recently did for former Raiders quarterback, JaMarcus Russell.

According to NowPublic, the used-to-be-QB was arrested at his home in Mobile, Alabama on July 5 for possession of a controlled substance. The substance was of course, the prescription cough medication containing codeine, for which Russell did not have said prescription. According to al.com, Russell was booked into Mobile Metro Jail and released minutes later after making $2,500 bail, per online records.

The big purple drank is nothing new. According to NBC Sports column Out of Bounds, the drank (also called lean, sizzurp, purple jelly, among other names) was reportedly popularized in the late 1990s by Robert Earl Davis Jr., a Houston rap disc jockey known as DJ Screw. DJ Screw died from a codeine overdose in 2000.

Russell is not the first sports figure to be caught in the purple rain of cough syrup. Out of Bounds reports that San Diego Chargers defensive back Terrence Kiel was arrested in 2006 for illegally shipping cases of prescription cough syrup to his home East Texas. Although USA Today reported back in 2006 that the syrup-based drink was now everyone's radar, some of us can only say with Out of Bounds writer, Rick Chandler, this is "news to me, but I don't get out much."

JaMarcus Russell is scheduled to appear in court on July 20.  A bond hearing is set for July 7.

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