Dr. Aaron's Blog

When addiction hits a baseball star – Darryl Strawberry.

December 8, 2015 Addiction, All, Naturopathic Medicine, Nutrition, Recovery coaching by Aaron Van Gaver

Darryl Strawberry is one of the most electrifying talents that the game of baseball has ever seen and when he first came into the league, it seemed as if the limit was the sky. He burst onto the scene in 1983 and would carve out a 17 year career, but his addictions and demons would always lurk in the background, waiting to trip him up at the most inopportune times.

Even while fighting through addiction, Strawberry still managed to make eight consecutive trips to the MLB All-Star Game and win a whopping four World Series titles. In retrospect, Strawberry has attributed his rough upbringing for many of his struggles. His father, an alcoholic who was violent and abusive, instilled a strong fear in Darryl, one that would not subside, even as he became rich and successful beyond his wildest dreams.

Growing up in a rugged South Central neighbourhood also presented Strawberry with more challenges than the average child was forced to deal with. Having a father who beat him with an extension cord and told him that he would never amount to anything created a void in Darryl’s heart, a void that could only be filled with hard drugs.

After him and his brothers finally decided to stand up for themselves, his father would be forced to leave the house. Darryl’s mother was solely responsible for him and his four siblings. Baseball would become the outlet for his immense rage. He developed a poor attitude, fuelled by a desire to avoid being controlled.

Darryl’s natural talent made it look like he was coasting, even when he was playing hard and even after winning a World Series title with the 1986 New York Mets, he began to turn to cocaine as an escape from the pressures placed on him by the local media. He eventually fled, signing a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

From there, Darryl slowly unraveled, with a litany of arrests, ranging from solicitation of prostitution, hit and runs, violations of house arrest and filing false police reports. Addicted to a cocktail of prescription medication, cocaine and alcohol, he was squandering his significant gifts.

After the 1999 season, when he was arrested for drug possession and solicitation, he was suspended from baseball and the next five years were a personal hell for Strawberry. His career was over, his wife divorced him and things were trending downward. Fortunately, Darryl’s story had a happy ending, as he would meet his current wife Tracy at a 2004 drug control convention.

He credits Tracy with helping to alleviate his pain and sadness, allowing him to get clean and embrace sobriety. Nowadays, Darryl is a completely different person, a man who has dedicated himself to his wife, his family and the Lord. It is an amazing story of redemption and a powerful reminder that addiction can strike down anyone at any moment.