olympic games is an honor, enormous privilege. >> gary hall, anthony irvan. share the gold. >> instead, it led to the most tumultuous time of his life. >> part of what led to a lot of the angst initially was doing well and performing well, the social kind of like joy that comes from others and knowing that one has done well, and you kind of get hooked on that. you kind of need that to sus sustain yourself. ervan's parents are jewish, native american and african-american. >> the first swimmer of african-american descent to make the u.s. team. >> the only problem he never identified as a black man. >> did it really piss you off when people called you the first african-american swimmer? >> i wouldn't say it pissed me off, but it created an an immense amount of confusion. >> at the height of it all, he 2003. >> post olympic champion status was about rediscovering, rebuilding myself, the way i wanted to be not the way others were, at least the way perceived wanted me to be. >> reporter: over the next decade, ervan sold his gold medal, donated money to charity and took off on a spiritual quest.