My wife Ruby and I are Christians and live in Riverside California. We attend Harvest Christian Fellowship and consider Harvest our Home church. Harvest is lead by Pastor Greg Laurie who is a world renowned evangelist, prolific writer, speaker and spiritual leader. Harvest puts on large scale evangelistic outreaches all over the United States including Canada, new Zealand and Australia since 1990 and has brought thousands of people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I love their contemporary style of praise and worship and the many programs they have to support living the christian life and fellowship with other Christians. Harvest is one the largest Congregations in America and continues to grow with their state of the art outreach in the community, world and online . What I like the most about Harvest Christian Fellowship is their contemporary style of preaching and teaching and the fact that from time to time Pastor Greg Laurie invites people who are Famous Christian’s in the spotlight to interview them about their life and the impact that Christ has had on their life. These interviews are conducted at the Church and are part of the worship service. The interviews last about 15 to 20 minutes. Pastor Greg then shares a message and the call to salvation . As a media guy who also interviews people on radio, the interviews are my favorite Sundays events. When I heard about Darryl strawberry coming to Harvest I was very excited because I am a baseball fan and as all fans do, we wonder about what happened to our sport legends after their career has ended. So I made my journey to the 8:00 AM service and I was not disappointed. Pastor Greg did a great job as he always does in interviewing Darryl and Darryl’s testimony was inspirational and resonated with me on so many levels that I felt compelled to write about the interview and his testimony.
The Player and the Man
If you are a baseball fan then of course you know about Darryl Strawberry. But in case you don’t know him let me give you a brief summary of who this man is. His career started May 6, 1983. I was just three years out of high school and married for a little over a year. Darryl Strawberry was a superstar player from day one. He played for New York Mets from 1983 to 1990 and help them win a World Series Championship, Los Angeles Dodgers from 1991 to 1993, San Francisco Giants in 1994, and the New York Yankees from 1995 to 1999 and helped the Yankees win three World Series Championships. His successful career in baseball and the milestones he achieved makes him one of the best players in Major League Baseball. Below is the list of his accomplishments:
8× All-Star (1984–1991)
4× World Series champion (1986, 1996, 1998, 1999)
NL Rookie of the Year (1983)
2× Silver Slugger Award (1988, 1990)
NL home run leader (1988)
New York Mets Hall of Fame
The title of this blog is Power Players with Power Faith because I’ll be conducting series of Radio/Video interviews for the Power Is Now Ministries about people who have achieve great success in life, business or sports and even greater defeats and setbacks that required Power Faith to survive, come back, and now thrive. Like the Sphinx rising from the ashes these people thought they were done, and in some cases had given up and were ready to die. But their Power Faith was their Power Play that pull them through to victory. Darryl strawberry is such the case. He is a person who achieved undeniable greatness in the profession of baseball, but was absolutely defeated by his demons internally and devastated by a lifestyle filled with addictive drugs, alcohol, sex and other disruptive behaviors, which resulted in three league suspensions and ultimately led to ending his career as a baseball player in scandal and shame.
In the interview with Greg Laurie he stated that his introduction to Jesus Christ was the answer he needed to change his life and that he came to that saving faith in Jesus in 1991.
His life challenges with drugs and alcohol is a very familiar story to most people with drug and alcohol addiction. His addiction to drug and alcohol began when he was a child living with an abusive father. His father was physically and emotionally abusive. On one occasion he threaten to kill his entire family with a shotgun. This incident was the catalyst to him leaving home and the supervision of his mother and father, only then take drinking and smoking marijuana which began at the tender age of 13 to entirely new level.
It would be almost 10 to 15 years later before he would truly allowed God to have authority over his life of addictions so that he could live up to his potential as man, father, and husband. After accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior in 1991 his life was still a mess. He had amassed over 3 million in debt , and for many years was in and out of jail for criminal drug activity, solicitation of prostitutes, violation of parole, violation of court ordered participation in drug treatment and rehab facilities. Playing baseball and being good at it wasn’t a problem according Strawberry. He enjoyed the success and the toy’s and access it brought him, but he did not consider himself a real man who could be responsible and accept responsibility of being husband and father, because he was in love with the lifestyle of being a drug users, and womanizer.
His weaknesses and addictions led to the divorce of his first wife 1989, just before the start of his final season with the Mets. He entered into a Alcohol rehabilitation program that same year and would do so two more times during his playing career with Dodgers and then the Giants. In 1994 while playing for the Giants he tested positive for Cocaine and the Giant’s release him because of a morality clause in his contract. In 1995 the Yankees signed him but did not exercise their option to keep him after the 1995 season and so he went to the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League. In 1996 the Yankees purchase his contract back from the St. Paul Saints and fortunately he had an incredible year and help the Yankees advance to the World Series for the first time since 1981. They won the World Series and Darry was a World Champion again ten years after winning it all with the Mets.
With all of this new success and momentum you would think it would be the turning point in his life to get better but it was not. In 1997, after dealing with numerous injuries, and now married again for a second time, he was hitting homes runs like there was no tomorrow and was also diagnosed with Colon cancer. His mother had died at age 55 from breast cancer and so he thought he was done at age 30. The timing of all of this was horrible because it was 1998 just weeks before the Yankees could cement their legacy as one the greatest teams of all time. Darryl incredible performance of home run hitting on the field got them to the World Series, but his treatment to remove the cancer was serious. They remove a tumor in his large intestine and as result he could not play in the world series but was able to join them at the end of October in the Victory Parade.
After finishing his Chemotherapy Treatments, he fell back into his old habits and was arrested for possession of cocaine and soliciting a prostitute. The league suspended him again but Yankees brought him back again to help them win the 1999 World Series Championship in which he hit two home runs. In 2000, he relapsed again and was ordered by the court to undergo treatment and of course the Cancer returns and required the removal of his left Kidney. At this point Darryl can’t seem to catch break. He left the treatment center without permission and was sentence to 30 days in jail. I can’t imagine living his life. Are you depressed yet? Think about how he is feeling? At this point the rest of his life is a very sad spiral downhill to the proverbial rock bottom. Is there a phrase for lower than rock bottom? He left a drug rehab facility and was missing for three days and found sleeping behind a 7-Eleven Convenience Store in Florida. We are talking about Darryl Strawberry, 4 Time World Series Champion. He was then put in prison for 11 months on a 18 month sentence in Gainesville Correctional institution. In the interview with Greg Laurie he said he would never forget the number he wore on his prison uniform “T17169”. He felt so bad about his life that he refuse Chemotherapy because he just wanted to die. His second marriage also fell apart during this turmoil and ended in divorce.
He eventually received the Chemotherapy he needed and was once again cancer free. A few years after being released from prison, he met his third wife , Tracy at a narcotics Anonymous Convention in Florida. Darryl, had relapsed again and was still using Drugs. Once a drug users always a drug user. Right? But Tracy was not. Tracy had enough faith in him and influence over him to convince him to move from his environment in Florida to her home town outside of St. Louis. This move was the beginning of a new life free of drugs and alcohol for Darryl Strawberry.
Darryl and Tracy got married in 2006 and started a foundation to raise awareness for childhood Autism. In 2007, Darryl and Tracy became ordained ministers and started speaking at hundreds of Churches. His life had transformed because of the faith of his wife who he said “did not tolerate him but helped him” to become the husband and man he is today. He is still Darryl Strawberry, drug and sex addict, and alcoholic, but sober for 15 years and can talk about it with anyone going through the same issues. He loves sharing his powerful testimony on how God delivered him and that no one is beyond redemption. He is no longer Darryl the baseball player but Darryl the minister proclaiming Gospel of Jesus Christ and changing lives with his story and helping others who are dealing with alcohol, drug or sex addiction. He and Tracy, move back to Orlando Florida and are making a difference there with three Drug Rehabilitation Facilities that he has lent his name to called Darryl Strawberry Recovery Centers in Central Florida. Darryl is hands on in the facilities sharing his testimony and helping people change their lives.
Darryl said the missing influence in his life that prevented him from applying his new found faith in Jesus Christ, to make the changes that he needed to make earlier in his career, was a person of influence and moral character to disciple him. His wife lead him back to the cross and away from the crack house, sex addiction and drugs. He was estranged from his father and went to him while he was in the hospital and forgave him because of the forgiveness that he had received from Christ. His story really resonates with me because I believe that discipling is critical to a successful life in general. Discipling is also known as mentoring and coaching. Whether it is learning how to be man or woman, husband or father, person of integrity, leader or a follower. Your life, your faith and profession will always benefit from mentoring and coaching from someone who loves you and cares enough about you to help you be the best person you can be. But are you humble enough to ask for help or except the coaching and discipling from someone else? Darry, had the tools the natural ability, training and financial resources to become a successful in baseball player. His natural skills got him in the league but it was the practice, coaching and training that resulted in him performing at a very high level and achieving many awards and financial success.
So it seems logical and reasonable that if he could achieve a successful baseball career because he had a team of people helping him with his game. Then he may have been successful earlier in life if he had a team of people mentoring and coaching him and helping him deal with the turmoil that he was having inside and at home. His conflict with his father and the challenges at home, the alcohol and drug addiction were all solvable issues. Then what about dealing with being in the spotlight and having millions of dollars at his disposal and not knowing how to manage it. Darryl life demonstrates the importance of mentoring. But Darryl probably didn’t even know how to ask for help or what mentoring or discipling was at the time he was going through all of this. Hindsight is always 20/20.
So if you are reading this blog and you have problems are you trying to deal with, are dealing with your problems on your own? Do you have the answers you need in your life and do you know where you can go or who you can talk to to get help? Someone once said to me that whenever you have a problem never complain and ask why me. Ask yourself what is it that I do not know. Then ask yourself who can I ask for help to get the knowledge I need to solve my problem? Knowledge is Power and The Power Is Now. Don’t be prideful and wallow in misery and defeat. . Be humble and asked for the help you need. Have faith in God to see you through it and He will help you live up to your potential as a human being.
Darryl Strawberry is witness to the grace of God. No one is beyond redemption. There is no situation except for death that you cannot come back from. God is good and he loves us and wants us to enjoy the life he is placed in us all.
The Power Is Now because The Power Is God!