Sobriety has been a decades-long struggle for AJ McLean. In an exclusive interview, the Backstreet Boy, 46, opened up to Life & Style about how daughters Elliot, 11, and Lyric, 7, inspired him to seek help after relapsing two years ago.

“Right before I got sober, I flew home from doing something in Miami. [I had] partied my ass off the night before, and I still smelled like alcohol,” he exclusively told Life & Style. “When I went to hug my youngest daughter, she backed away from me. She’s like, ‘You don’t smell like my daddy.’ That crushed me. That killed me.” It was then that “the biggest light bulb” went off for AJ. “You know, I could go hard one last time, and it really would probably be the last time, and leave my kids fatherless?” he said. “Absolutely not.”