Darryl Strawberry challenges community to get involved

By Alicia Sisk
 
Major League Baseball’s power hitter Darryl Strawberry brought a message of hope and healing at Oaklawn’s 18th Annual Spring Spectacular on May 19. 
 
During his 17-year career, Strawberry boasted 335 home runs, 1,000 RBI, four World Series titles and eight All-Star appearances. But it wasn’t just his skills on the field that made headlines. Strawberry struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and was arrested and suspended multiple times. The addiction put him on a downward spiral. He lost the millions he had made, nice houses and fancy cars. But it wasn’t the fame that was the root of the problem, he said. It was brokenness.
 
“See, most people didn’t know that I already had scars before I ever put on a Major League Baseball uniform,” Strawberry said Friday night. 
 
Strawberry grew up with an abusive father. Once, shotgun in hand, his father threatened to kill their whole family. That experience, and others with his father, left lasting scars that affected him well into adulthood. And the same could be true of anyone, he said. 
 
“The stigma — it should never be pointed at someone in such a negative way,” Strawberry said. “We don’t know what’s really happened to a person.” 
 
Strawberry gives credit to God and his wife Tracy, whom he met a Narcotics Anonymous convention, for helping him overcome his addiction. 
 
“Tracy, she was pulling me out of dope houses, and she said, ‘God’s got a better plan for you,’ ” he said. “God’s up to the same plan today — using people to help people. I went over to the [Oaklawn] facility today, and it’s the same thing — using people to help people.” 
 
Strawberry closed by challenging the audience to do just that.
 
“It’s not until you get involved in an organization like this that you know how much they’re changing lives,” Strawberry said. “This is your community. I’m just a visitor. This is your community to make a difference in.”
 

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