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David  Magee

David Magee

Bestselling Author of the Award-Winning Book Dear William

David Magee

Bestselling Author of the Award-Winning Book Dear William


David Magee is the bestselling author of the award-winning book Dear William: A Father’s Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, Love and Loss (2021), a Publisher’s Weekly national bestseller featured on CBS Mornings, and other non-fiction works including How Toyota Became #1 (Penguin), a bestseller in India. He is a frequent educational and motivational speaker, an award-winning columnist and TEDx presenter, and a changemaker in student mental health and substance use disorder.

Called “breathtakingly brilliant,” Dear William reveals how David and his family were completely shattered by addiction, losing nearly everything, but he and two of three children found long-term recovery, and his marriage, family and career saved minus their son William, who died of an accidental overdose. A creator and director of operations of the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing at the University of Mississippi, named after his late son, David is a sought-after speaker in schools and universities, addressing students and parents about mental health and substance misuse challenges and solutions. He’s a National Recovery Advocate for the Integrative Life Network.  

David has been a daily newspaper and magazine editor and publisher, small business owner, a regular guest on CNBC, and once hosted a national cable TV and radio program — The David Magee Show. As an author, he’s studied and written with access about such brands as John Deere, Ford Motor Company, Louisville Slugger, General Electric and the Dallas Cowboys. But the story in David’s latest book Dear William, about his search for identity (as an adoptee), he and his family’s addiction and recovery, overcoming an unusual cancer diagnosis, and finding joy and purpose amid it all, is what shapes his mission of working to change, improve and even save lives in this age of mental health and substance use disorder crisis.

He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Speaker Videos

TEDx: Road to Wellbeingville

On “Dear William” | CBS Mornings

Family Matters: Meet the Magee’s

Speech Topics

Things Have Changed: Students (and Families) at Mental Health / Substance Use Disorder Risk Like Never Before and What We Can Do About It

Things have changed so fast and drastically that students today have been left unprepared for a challenging world presenting mental health and substance use disorder risks, from anxiety and depression to habitual alcohol and/or drug use -- and even worse, heightened risk of overdose and death by suicide. And, things have changed so fast and drastically that most parents don’t know what’s happening or what to do about it. David outlines the problem and shares valuable solutions.

Road to Wellbeingville

What happens when you set out to fix someone else only to realize you are the one who needs correcting? David was concerned his oldest child, William, had growing alcohol and drug problem. He planned to counsel William over a three-day cross-country journey, extolling the virtues of good living. But on the trip, amplified by daunting elements, David faced his addiction. The lessons he shared with his son became an action plan to change his life. The result is dramatic.

What Every Parent, Family Should Know About Substance Misuse / Mental Health

Parents like to think they know what’s happening in students’ lives because they were young once. But it’s not that simple. In the age of social media, smartphone addiction, illegal substances sold in apps, and the proliferation of counterfeit pills, many laced with Fentanyl, everyone in the students’ ecosystem, especially parents, need more insight. Here’s what they should know.

Resilience as an Investment

David Magee says, "resilience is the salvaged soul’s most generous friend.” In other words, few investments pay more significant dividends than working through challenges and difficulties. It’s not easy, and tools are required. But, it’s how we get the most significant wins.

America Has a Substance and Mental Health Problem: How to Fix It

We got so busy fighting with ourselves politically that we forgot about what matters most: The children. After failed programs like “Just Say No” and D.A.R.E., our schools have been left without needed educational tools to prepare students for the unprecedented mental health and substance use disorder crisis they face. Families are hurting like never before, and that pain permeates all aspects of life, including the home and workplace. To create the needed change, we’ve got to get upstream – to the students.

Family Matters: Meet the Magee’s

They say family is at the root of our socialization and undoubtedly that’s true. But it’s therefore often at the root of both our joy, and pain. The Magee’s, a family of five, learned the hard way about hand-me-down pain, suffering great loss and damage, including overdose death, near overdose death, divorce, career loss, financial hardship, eating disorder and more. Yet they managed to fight back, with multiple members in recovery and a restored marriage, they found joy and success beyond anything they had imagined. It’s the rare family willing to take the stage together to talk publicly about how they became so broken, and healed. Meet the Magee’s – David, his wife Kent, daughter Mary Halley (eating disorder recovery), and son Hudson (more than a decade sober after being found dead by a fraternity house swimming pool and brought back to life).

Keeping the Faith: Joy + Purpose = Wellbeing

Most of us have wondered what we are doing with our lives and why. David Magee lived that life, chasing success without a purpose, and even laughing, without true joy. Eventually, the hollowness dangerously expanded and his life, family and career were falling apart. Faith led the way in turning it all around – we humans, after all, are happiest when we believe in something bigger than ourselves -- and on that journey, for the first time, he found purpose. The result is a life of joy + purpose equaling a wellbeing that he had never known. He passionately shares the story that so many others can easily relate.

The Mid-Life Makeover Motivation

Becoming a better you, and improving the quality of life for those closest to you, may seem like an impossibility when you feel stuck in the middle of life, but it’s more easily done than most imagine. No matter the challenge – cancer, divorce, professional disappointment, substance use disorder, or all – a much brighter tomorrow is within reach.