His attorney painted the former NFL player as a drug addict who deserved one more chance to straighten out his life. The prosecution conceded he did have an addiction -- not to the drugs, but the lifestyle.
The courtroom silence was broken by the screams of an anguished mother. Her son, former NFL defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, was sentenced to six years for violating his probation on a previous drug charge.
"He was shocked. He's devastated. He's disappointed, but I can honestly say he accepted it better than I thought he would," said defense attorney Letitia Quinones.
"I want to go to rehab to get help. I don't want to go to prison. I lost everything I've gained. I just want peace back in my life," Jolly told the judge through tears.
In 2008, the former NFL player had been ordered by the court to avoid drugs and undergo drug treatment at an inpatient facility for 90 days. Jolly was warned he'd face prison time if he violated the terms of his probation. Last month, Houston police arrested him after they allegedly found codeine in his truck. It was his third drug arrest in 3 years.
"They had marijuana. He had a gun. He was headed to a strip club. That's not somebody that's really trying to change the way they live or trying to learn from their past mistakes," said prosecutor Tracy Bennett.
Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the NFL last year and did not play for the Packers during their Super Bowl winning season. His agent told the court, "You have a lot of people in the Packers' locker room who are rooting for him and want him to come back."
Jolly, 28, described codeine as his only friend in an interview with ESPN that aired on Wednesday. Today, he told the court his addiction took him to rock bottom.
"Codeine has cost me my family, friends, houses, jewelry and the sport that I love," Jolly said.
His attorney believes there was every reason to give him another chance.
"My concern is that he will give up. He has an addiction and my concern is that he's going to believe no one cares enough to help," said Quinones.
Jolly could be eligible for parole in 14 months. He still has two other pending criminal cases.