(NEW YORK) — For a year and a half, Khalil Rafati called Skid Row in Los Angeles home. He lived on the streets, destitute and addicted to heroin.
Rafati said fell into “real homelessness, where your teeth are rotting out of your head and you have a smell on your body that is so disgusting it is so unbearable.”
“The only thing you can do at that point is get high,” he said. “And when you’re coming down, pray for death or pray for money for drugs.”
That was 13 years ago. Today, Rafati is a multi-millionaire.
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Rafati turned his life around and founded the juice and smoothie empire, SunLife Organics, based in Malibu, California. His company has 200 employees, six stores with two more coming and a devoted celebrity clientele –- from Julia Roberts to Harry Styles to Kendall Jenner.
In a town bursting with juice bars, Rafati says his company has flourished because it’s authentic and natural. His smoothies include ingredients like bee pollen, chia seeds, vegan protein powder or goat colostrum.
“That’s the mother’s milk from a goat when she first gives birth,” he said. “And we use a special honey from India that while it’s being made the monks are chanting.”
Now, Rafati says, he is sober. His fix now is doing daily hot yoga.
“I think the obsession and the addiction have gotten more powerful as the years have gone by … channeled into a positive direction,” Rafati said. “I’m an addict through and through and that’s never going to change.”
He was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and moved to California as soon as he could. He did odd jobs for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor.
“I was able to maintain and sustain and not get into too much trouble,” he said.
He said then he was dealing a little weed, playing in a band and having fun. But that soon changed.
“Once heroin came into the picture, I didn’t care,” Rafati said. “There was no fear. There was no anxiety… I literally did not care.”
Things got so low for Rafati, he said, he got into a fight with his girlfriend one night and tried to end his life.