For years Wendell Sailor's official biography said he was born in the Queensland country town of Sarina - but that was never true.
Yet it wasn't the biggest secret Sailor has been keeping all these years - there was something much darker.
Two days after he was born his birth mother Penny decided she couldn't handle bringing up a child, so handed her baby - Wendell Jermaine Quakawoot - to the couple living next door.
That couple, Daniel and Alison Sailor, raised him as their son, moving to Sarina before he started school, because in a small town perhaps there would be fewer questions about why Wendell's surname was different to theirs (today, it's the same, Sailor changing it by deed poll when he was 21).
The tale of being abandoned by his birth mother and the reverberations that had throughout his life is something only his family and close friends knew - until he released his new book.
In Crossing The Line Sailor talks about the abandonment as well as the binge drinking of his younger years, that positive drug test, and his return to league.
He hadn't planned to talk about the abandonment and adoption - in fact, he's not sure if he ever was officially adopted. He figured the public didn't really need to know every detail of his private life.
"I wasn't actually going to talk about the adoption anyway but my wife said, if you're going to do the book, you've got to do it 100 per cent," Sailor said.
"I was very apprehensive at first - people don't need to know everything about everybody - but when I started doing the book and started talking about it, it started taking a bit of a weight off my shoulders."
Something else that perhaps has taken a bit of the weight off is the counselling sessions he attends. He was initially reluctant to go but consented after prodding from wife Tara and Broncos and Dragons coach Wayne Bennett.
"I've spoken to Wayne Bennett and a few people around me about it and it's funny how it still cuts you," Sailor said.
"That whole abandonment feeling. I don't know what it is. When my mum told me in my teens, I don't think it registered with me. The older you get the more you resent it a little bit, the more you go 'why? Why me?' "
The last time Sailor really spoke to Penny he was about 17. A few years ago a relative from her side of the family passed on her phone number but he is yet to pick up the phone.
Part of his reasoning for not doing so is because he's not sure whether he wants to hear her reasons for abandoning him after just two days.
"I know having kids myself, you wonder why someone would say, when their baby is two days old, 'I'm going to give him away'," he said.
"Being a father now, I don't see how they can. I've had a lot of bad days where I just want to know why. It's funny, I do and then I don't."
Since retiring from football, Sailor visits juvenile detention centres and talks to the young kids there. A constant in their stories is parental abandonment, which tends to eat away at them. It's also something that gives Sailor a connection with them - and a glimpse of just how fortunate he has been.
"I know I did pretty well with my parents and the family that I was brought up in but when you hear of some kids it could have easily gone the other way for me. I could have gone from foster family to foster family."
Instead, those neighbours who took him in and raised him as their own son sacrificed quite a lot to ensure young Wendell didn't go without. His father worked on the railways and would do overtime or borrow from workmates to ensure Wendell got that Greg Chappell cricket bat, those Wally Lewis football boots and, when he started succeeding in league, trips around Queensland to play for youth representative sides.
"I'm probably one of the good stories, the lucky stories because, as a mum and dad, they did everything right by me," Sailor said.
In a sporting career that includes representing his country in both rugby codes and winning premierships, it is a two-year period where he couldn't play that people remember him for.
A random drug test after a match for the NSW Waratahs in 2006 came back positive for cocaine. Although he'd taken the drug at a music industry party on the Wednesday, because he tested positive on game day he was hit with the two-year ban.
While it was a turbulent time in his life, Sailor said it wasn't difficult to go over again for the book.
"I think people know that when I got in trouble with drugs it wasn't that I was a drug cheat. I was party boy, even WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency and ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority) came in and said, 'we know he's not a drug cheat but he took an illicit drug and he's got a two-year ban.' When I tested positive, it wasn't so much about me. The end product was that it hurt the people around me, whether it's your wife, your kids, your mum."
His experience with party drugs and a period of binge drinking in his 20s may mean some see him as a guiding influence on younger NRL footballers, but Sailor isn't so sure that they would learn much from his mistakes.
"I think we're all human, it's human nature to make mistakes," he said.
"Young people aren't going to just change because someone else got in trouble five or 10 years ago.
"There were players that got in trouble before me, but you just think it's not going to happen to you. Sometimes you think you're just indestructible.
"I had more than enough chances to get help with my binge drinking but it's just the invincibility of playing sport. You don't really worry about it."
On the field, Sailor had represented his country in both league and union, though he identifies himself very much as a league man. Speaking of identity, Sailor said many people still thought of him as a Dragons player even though he spent only the last two years of his league career in the Red V.
For nine years, he was a Brisbane Bronco, something his former team-mates made sure he was aware of.
"Coming back with the Dragons, the Broncos boys would give me some stick - 'you're not a Dragon, you're a Bronco'.
"I'll always be a Bronco but I'll always respect the Dragons for throwing me that lifeline. When you wear that Red V, that jersey, you understand the history, the blokes who have worn it. The Gasniers, the Rapers, the Langlands.
"Also, this community has taken me in like I played here for 10 years."
That's something that could have been a reality - rather than being a Bronco, Sailor actually came close to being a Steeler. Sailor trialled with the Broncos but Bennett said he wasn't going to sign him. So Sailor headed down to the Illawarra for a trial and he said came close to playing for the Steelers. Close enough, in fact, to feel the need to give the established centre pairing of Brett Rodwell and Paul "Mary" McGregor a warning.
Sailor said McGregor remembers their first meeting, in the demountables that sat across the road from the Steelers Club and served as the development office.
McGregor and Rodwell helped out over there and one day, club official Neil Lovett took Sailor over to meet them.
"I knew they were centres and I was playing centre at the time," Sailor said.
"Apparently, I said something like 'which one of you guys are going to be playing on the wing next year? Because I'm going to be playing in the centres'.
"I was about 18 and Mary thought, 'is this bloke serious? How full of himself is he?' "
The Steelers didn't offer Sailor anything concrete and, when he headed back to Queensland, he found Bennett had changed his mind and offered the brash 18-year-old a one-year deal.
That's something Sailor, now 39, is grateful for - after Daniel and Alison Sailor it is Bennett and the Broncos whom Sailor credits for making him what he is today.
"I still believe I wouldn't have reached my potential, because I don't believe I was the most gifted footballer but I learned to train hard, I learned to respect my team-mates and I learned to push myself to the nth degree coming through that Broncos culture.
"The Broncos have made me as a footballer and as a person."
His two years at the Dragons were about redemption, about going out on his own terms - and not ending his career with a two-year drug ban.
His last game with the Dragons was the semifinal loss to the Broncos in 2009. The Dragons had lined up a corporate job as the club's ambassador and that, with media commitments, would keep him busy. But he did consider a last-minute offer to play a season with the Melbourne Storm - though that ended when Sailor told Bennett about it. Sailor said his coach was "pretty ropeable" at the news (in the book Bennett admits he "got the shits big-time").
"I understand now, it's better to go out a year early than a year too late," Sailor said. "And things had been set up. The Dragons had worked so hard and been so wonderful. So I was pretty happy to retire. And I don't think I could have done another pre-season. That's what ends up breaking you in the end, when you don't think you can do another pre-season.
"Then you know it's time to go."