Lillo Brancato was just 16 when he made his acting debut in Robert De Niro’s, “A Bronx Tale.” The film did better than anyone expected, establishing him as an up and coming star, and changing his life. They called him the next De Niro, and Brancato continued to show promise as an actor; he went on to star in “Crimson Tide” and “Renaissance Man,” and had a memorable arc on the hit HBO show “The Sopranos.”
As a child in Hollywood’s spotlight, things began to spiral out of control for Brancato. He went from smoking marijuana to using cocaine, and became addicted to opiates in his 20’s. His life was beginning to fall apart. Brancato says he continued to spiral out of control until the night of December 10, 2005, when an off-duty police officer witnessed him and another man committing a burglary. The officer shot at him and his accomplice, and the accomplice shot back, murdering the officer. Brancato was sentenced to 10 years in jail for the burglary, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to use drugs.
It wasn’t until after Lillo overdosed in his cell on November 12, 2006 that a cousin and a friend came to visit him; he remembers the look of disappointment in their eyes when they saw him. It was that day that Brancato made a choice to change his life by getting sober.
Now, 12 years later, amid an epidemic killing hundreds of people a day, Lillo Brancato has decided to dedicate his time to helping people in the community get sober. Besides helping people get into drug and alcohol treatment centers, Brancato also spreads the message that recovery is possible by working with Amatus Health as a National Outreach Coordinator. Brancato uses social media as a tool to share his story of recovery from addiction. He believes that God got him through all the obstacles he’s faced in life to do this work and intends to continue helping people until the day he dies.