Former Falcon descends into mental illness
From that moment of triumph before a nationwide audience, though, the community would be brought to its knees once more by a troubled young man who had lived some of the greatest moments of his life in an A-P jersey. Mark Becker, a 24-year-old alumnus who had been a star linebacker and offensive guard under Coach Thomas, had struggled with mental problems since his 2004 high school graduation. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental disorders, Becker began dabbling with drugs and alcohol. His erratic self-medication led him in and out of college and into increasing trouble with the law.
After his high-school graduation, Becker enrolled at nearby Wartburg College where he played football and declared a major in business administration. He withdrew after one semester. In 2006, Becker gave college another try, enrolling at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo. Again, he only lasted a semester.
As his academic record became increasingly spotty, his police record became longer and longer. In January 2005, Becker was convicted of OWI (Operating While under the Influence). On January 19, 2009, Becker was pulled over by a Black Hawk County deputy for driving with a burned-out headlight — the officer found a glass pipe and a digital scale in the car. Becker admitted to using meth, and was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. He escaped with only a fine.
Becker had a few more serious charges that hinted at a propensity for violence. On November 18, 2008, he was arrested for assault causing bodily injury for punching a friend's neighbor in a dispute between the two other men. Becker served 4 days of a 90-day sentence. A few weeks later, on December 9, 2008, Becker picked up a 4th degree criminal mischief charge for kicking in an apartment door. Again, it was after a dispute between a friend of Becker's and another person. The man with Becker was charged with criminal mischief and possession of meth. Again, Becker served 4 days of a 90-day sentence — the rest was suspended.