Indian-American lawmaker from Ohio goes public with father’s alcoholism

Niraj Antani is a childhood photo with his father, who, he revealed was an alcoholic and died ten years ago. Antani is now an Ohio State Representative who is running for the State Senate. (Photo:Facebook, with express permission from Rep. Antani)

Ohio State Representative Niraj Antani, who just won the Republican primary for the state Senate, revealed on social media, that his late father had been an alcoholic. He is speaking out he said, to help those in similar situations, and promises to make any change possible through the legislature.

“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,” Antani said on Facebook and Twitter May 14, 2020.

“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 went on to say.

He was the youngest lawmaker elected to the Ohio State House of Representatives at the age of 24, and now at 27, he is currently serving his 3rd term in office. He was the second Indian-American to be elected to the Ohio House after Jay Goyal of Mansfield, who served from 2007 to 2013, leaving to manage his family business.

Antani, recounting his father’s impact goes on to say, “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 what was obviously a tough life as a youth, Antani recalls how he navigated his way through school. His words speak for themselves.

“In high school, I did my best to find excuses not to go home; extracurriculars, friends, whatever. Doing homework every night was a struggle.”

Despite the negatives, Antani got a full scholarship to attend Ohio State University.

“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,” says Antani revealing a side of childhood not known all these years.

“On my own, I graduated college, got elected, re-elected twice, gotten bills signed into law, and won the Republican primary for state senate,” notes Antani, listing his accomplishments despite the trials he faced.

But Antani goes on to connect his situation with that of other youth.

“However, my story is not unique. Unfortunately, too many have a parent who is alcoholic, addicted to something else, absent. Too many,” he emphasizes.

“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,” says the young lawmaker.

“For the past 10 years, I’ve ignored it. Not anymore. Not for me, but for those who go through it now,” Antani says.

“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,” Antani promises.



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