The Red Hot Chili Pep­pers singer recalls the teenage hob­by that almost cost him his life.

At the age of 15, Mike (lat­er known as Flea) and I became inter­est­ed in jump­ing into swim­ming pools from rooftops. We start­ed by div­ing off two-sto­ry build­ings. We did­n’t care about the peo­ple sun­bathing around the pool; It was even more fun that way. Typ­i­cal­ly, we would jump, climb out of the pool, and imme­di­ate­ly take off across the yards like bats. But there were cas­es when we sur­faced and saw that there was no dan­ger of being caught yet. There­fore, we began to go crazy, throw­ing the own­ers or the watch­man who arrived in shock into shock. Grad­u­al­ly we reached five-sto­ry build­ings. The depth of the pools did­n’t mat­ter: it did­n’t take much water to land. If the pool is shal­low, then you need to try to fall into the water not with your head, but with your side.

One day in June, Mike and I looked at an apart­ment build­ing near­by. The teardrop-shaped pool was very small, and the deep­est point was at the nar­row­est part of the teardrop. We had to use an out­side lad­der to get onto the build­ing, and some­one start­ed yelling at us to get down imme­di­ate­ly. But we didn’t even think about stop­ping. I told Mike to start, he jumped and I heard a splash of water. Then I climbed onto the roof. I didn’t even look down to mea­sure the tra­jec­to­ry of the jump — I was more wor­ried about the prospect of get­ting hit in the face by the peo­ple scream­ing from below.

I real­ized already in the air that I had over­done the force of my jump and would now miss the pool. The con­crete floor approached inex­orably, and I land­ed on my heels about ten inch­es from the edge of the pool, after which I fell into the water and began to sink. But, despite the shock of pain that almost par­a­lyzed me, I was able to push myself out of the pool, roll onto the con­crete shore and let out an inhu­man scream that seemed to come from the depths of hell.

I could­n’t move. Some­one called an ambu­lance, and the para­medics clum­si­ly rolled me onto a stretch­er, near­ly drop­ping me in the process. They did­n’t secure the stretch­er in the ambu­lance, so I was hang­ing out in the back like shit in a hole all the way to the hos­pi­tal. I was over­come with ter­ri­ble pain and hor­ror, since, judg­ing by the fact that I could not move, the dam­age was very seri­ous.

I was tak­en to Cedars Sinai Hos­pi­tal and x‑rayed. “You broke your back, and every­thing is not very good,” said the doc­tor who came into the room, and then I began to sob: “What about my sum­mer? What about my sports activ­i­ties? What about my life?

I des­per­ate­ly tried to con­vince every nurse I passed by to give me painkillers, but they would­n’t give me any­thing with­out the doc­tor’s per­mis­sion. Then my father burst into the room shout­ing: “What did I tell you? Who’s right now? Did­n’t I tell you that this would hap­pen some­day? And I just looked at the nurse and said, “Some­one get him out of here. He should­n’t be here.” Final­ly, I was fit­ted with an arti­fi­cial breath­ing sys­tem with a belt around my chest. I was informed that my spine was flat­tened like a stack of pan­cakes and it would take months of stretch­ing to restore it.

After two months of stretch­ing, I start­ed going crazy from lack of move­ment. One day Hil­lel Slo­vak (future Red Hot Chili Pep­pers gui­tarist) vis­it­ed me and I plead­ed, “I can’t be here any­more. You have to take me away from here!” He went down­stairs to get the car ready, and I untied my belt, rolled over, and stood up on my weak­ened legs. Shin­ing my bare butt in the cut of my hos­pi­tal paja­mas, I began to sneak along the cor­ri­dor like Franken­stein. The nurs­es noticed me and start­ed shout­ing that I couldn’t go any­where for anoth­er two weeks, but I didn’t care. Some­how I walked down the stairs and Hil­lel helped me into the car. Before arriv­ing home, I per­suad­ed him to take me to the build­ing where I crashed to under­stand what exact­ly I had done wrong.

I spent the next few weeks hor­i­zon­tal in my bed. Luck­i­ly, a friend of my father’s named Lark, a beau­ti­ful, rel­a­tive­ly suc­cess­ful actress in her ear­ly 20s, was vis­it­ing me. She came day and night to treat me with sex. I was wear­ing my belt again and had to keep ask­ing her to be very care­ful, but this nympho­ma­ni­ac was jump­ing on me like crazy. It cer­tain­ly made the heal­ing process more enjoy­able.

Full recov­ery took a long time, and my back still makes itself felt some­times. But, for­tu­nate­ly, I found new hob­bies, and I nev­er returned to jump­ing from the roof.