But when those times ended, Bradley struggled with his memories as a Tiger.
Following his senior season in 1979, Bradley started to distance himself from the program and teammates he loved for the past four years.
"I think I loved it too much," he said. "I decided it was better to divorce myself from LSU."
Bradley moved to
It was not until he received one call that Bradley was able to allow LSU football back into his life.
In the days leading up to his passing, McClendon, Bradley's coach for all four years of college, called his former player and invited him for a visit.
Bradley was so moved by the invitation that he could not find anyway to ignore Coach Mac.
"The greatest thing he ever did for me was let me see him at the end of his life," Bradley said. "He has given me such a great memory."
A few days after the visit, McClendon passed away. His death, however, inspired Bradley to confront his troubles about post-LSU life. One of the biggest realizations Bradley had was about Coach Mac.
"You don't always love your coach, but you always respect him when you're playing for him. I didn't really love him until it was over," Bradley said. "When you're playing at that level, there's a lot of survival involved. You don't have time to stop and look at a guy like Coach Mac, but later I felt it."
Bradley's time with his coach also gave him the courage to speak to former teammates he ignored for years.
After more than two decades apart, Bradley reunited with his college roommates, linebacker John Adams and tackle Ed Stanton.
"We shared everything together, like you would a brother," Bradley said. "You felt like you were with a great group of guys."
Bradley also recently spent a
Bradley's career as a writer has also helped reconnect him to his college.
Bradley's story detailing his memories as a Tiger, titled "The Best Days of My Life," ran in the LSU national championship special edition of Sports Illustrated following the 2003 season.
He had no idea at the time, but that article would have a tremendous impact on his future.
After that story came out, Bradley was contacted by many of his LSU teammates. Today, he still keeps in touch with those players, either by exchanging e-mails or sitting down for a cup of coffee.
That story also presented Bradley with numerous writing opportunities. He was contacted by many publishing houses to write a novel about his years at LSU before agreeing to be one of the first writers in ESPN's new book publishing division.
For the past 18 months, Bradley
locked himself in his homes in
"All those guys and coaches have been living with me in that room," Bradley said.
Although Bradley has received much acclaim for his fiction writing, he acknowledged that the name he created for himself as a member of the LSU football team has helped him to succeed in his professional career.
"Without LSU football, I doubt I would have been given the advantage I've gotten as a writer," he said.
Despite staying away from LSU in
the past, Bradley knows the impact his time as a Tiger has had on him. Those
early morning workouts, late night study sessions and Saturday nights in
"More than that, it's one of
those experiences that you never really recover from," he said. "That identity
that you forge as a 21 year-old follows you forever."