We've all seen this ballsy Santa Cruz guy looking like ... well ... a flea on waves the size of mountains at Mavericks, Waimea etc. But not many people knew that for years Flea was living a hellish life of heavy-duty 'ice' addiction.

This piece from the San Francisco Chronicle delves into Flea's world, his battles with the drug and his recent life as a clean man.

Darryl 'Flea' Virostko - back to Mavericks

Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer

Nearly dying is a specialty of Darryl "Flea" Virostko.

The surfer, who won the first three monster-wave contests at Mavericks north of Half Moon Bay, almost drowned there once when the leash that attaches his ankle to the board clung to an underwater rock.

So epic was a plunge down a 50-foot wall of water at Hawaii's Waimea Bay in 2004 that Surfer magazine dubbed it the "Wipeout of the Decade."

But Virostko was never closer to death than when he decided to get sober last year, several days after terrified relatives and fellow surfers staged an intervention.

Closing out a final bender, he smoked a pipe of crystal meth, then chugged a half-gallon of vodka as he drove from Santa Cruz to a Pacific Grove rehab center.

"I didn't care about my life at all," Virostko said recently, talking about his rise to stardom and near-fatal descent. "I wasn't being Flea."

Being Flea means pushing the limits of mortality on freakishly large waves, not dry land. Now, he said, it means celebrating 14 months of sobriety, teaching addicts to surf in his FleaHab program, and training to become a drug and alcohol counselor.

"If I can do it, anyone can do it," the 37-year-old said of quitting drugs. "Because I went to the edge of the earth."

You can read the whole of this story here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/11/08/MNFK1ACCSE.DTL