The son of Ryan O'Neal and the late Farrah Fawcett earned high praise Tuesday for his progress in drug treatment from a judge who urged him to keep making healthy, smart decisions.
Redmond O'Neal appeared in court in a dark suit and looked noticeably healthier than he did during previous court appearances.
Judge Keith L. Schwartz noticed and said it was a good sign of his recovery. During some previous court dates, O'Neal had appeared gaunt and been forced to wear a jail jumpsuit.
"There is no reason you can't turn your life around," Schwartz said. "I'm very proud of you. You've done an outstanding job."
Schwartz said he would continue to delay O'Neal's sentencing for a probation violation and drug case if he continued to do well at an in-patient treatment program. He could face up to six years behind bars if he relapses or is re-arrested.
The 27-year-old O'Neal told the court that he is exercising five times a week and studying for his GED diploma. He also said his meetings with therapists were allowing him to confront demons that led him into drug addiction.
O'Neal was arrested in August after police stopped him for running a red light and said they discovered heroin in his car. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a gun after authorities found a 9mm handgun while searching O'Neal's apartment.
At the time, O'Neal was on probation for another drug-related case.
Schwartz's praise came after he reviewed numerous reports from doctors and listened to O'Neal describe his newfound commitment to fitness and learning.
"This is brain food for me," O'Neal said.
He was in jail in June 2009 when his mother died after a battle with cancer and was briefly released to attend her funeral.
Schwartz said if O'Neal learns to properly cope with his addiction, he should consider a career as an addiction counselor or go into a field where he can help other people.
The judge reminded O'Neal there is a lot at stake and urged him to remain completely honest with his therapists and confront issues that were a result of his upbringing. Schwartz didn't elaborate, citing privacy reasons.
"Everything is starting to fall into place," Schwartz said. "You cannot go back to square one."
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP