Indian American Ohio state legislator Niraj Antani speaks up about losing father to alcoholism

Niraj Antani

Antani’s father died 10 years ago, when the lawmaker was a college freshman.

Ten years after he lost his father to alcoholism, Ohio state legislator Niraj Antani has spoken up about his loss publicly for the first time.

In a social media post, the Indian American, who has been a state representative since 2014, wrote: “For the past 10 years, I’ve ignored it. Whether out of embarrassment or fear of seeming weak, I acted as if it didn’t happen- his death or his severe alcoholism. I’m choosing to speak up now not out of sadness or wanting pity, but rather out of a sense of duty.”

Antani, who is now running for the state senate, wrote that dealing with his father’s alcoholism was tough. He drank “every day, turning angry, and yelling,” the lawmaker tweeted. The Republican wrote that, while in high school, he did his “best to find excuses not to go home” and doing “homework every night was a struggle.”

Antani would graduate from Miamisburg High School and later earn his undergraduate degree from Ohio State University, where he received a full ride.

When he was first elected to the Ohio statehouse from the 42nd district at the age of 23, he was the youngest member of the House. He was also the first Indian American Republican to serve in the Ohio House.

Last month, he won the Republican primary for for the state senate’s sixth district.

Antani wrote that he is speaking up now because he cannot ignore the issue anymore. “Unfortunately, too many have a parent who is alcoholic, addicted to something else, absent,” he wrote. “Too many. Let my story be a message to all of them: You can do it. You can achieve your dreams despite them, without them. When all seems hopeless or unattainable, I promise you, it is not. You don’t need to just survive. You can thrive. I am here for you. Call me. Message me. Text me. I am here for you.”

Here is the full text of Antani’s posting:

Exactly 10 years ago this weekend, my father died. I’ve never spoken publicly about this before. I was 19 years old. He was an alcoholic.

For the past 10 years, I’ve ignored it. Whether out of embarrassment or fear of seeming weak, I acted as if it didn’t happen- his death or his severe alcoholism. I’m choosing to speak up now not out of sadness or wanting pity, but rather out of a sense of duty.

He was not an alcoholic in the sense of being the life of the party. He was an alcoholic in the sense of drinking every day, turning angry, and yelling. In high school, I did my best to find excuses not to go home; extracurriculars, friends, whatever. Doing homework every night was a struggle.

Regardless, I graduated high school and got a full ride to Ohio State.

Near the end of my freshman year of college, he died. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to class the next day. I didn’t tell anyone, even closest friends, for a long time.

On my own, I graduated college, got elected, re-elected twice, gotten bills signed into law, and won the Republican primary for state senate.

However, my story is not unique. Unfortunately, too many have a parent who is alcoholic, addicted to something else, absent. Too many. Let my story be a message to all of them: You can do it. You can achieve your dreams despite them, without them. When all seems hopeless or unattainable, I promise you, it is not. You don’t need to just survive. You can thrive. I am here for you. Call me. Message me. Text me. I am here for you.

For the past 10 years, I’ve ignored it. Not anymore. Not for me, but for those who go through it now. As a Member of the General Assembly, I am in a position to make change, to help. To help those with addiction in their family. To change the life of a kid who’s grown up on their own. To make things a little better. I have a duty to do that. On this issue, I resolve to do that.

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