GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Former MLB star Darryl Strawberry was in metro Grand Rapids Thursday to speak at the annual banquet for Guiding Light, which ministers to the homeless and those struggling with addiction in Grand Rapids.
As a player, Strawberry was one of the most feared hitters of his era. He was an eight-time All-Star and part of four World Championship teams — one with the New York Mets and three with the New York Yankees. He also had well-documented off-the-field issues with substance abuse.
Now, he’s an ordained minister and travels the country trying to help recovering addicts.
He said that when he was a player, he never would have expected the path his life has taken.
“I think none of us really understand what our role is and what direction our lives are going to go,” he told 24 Hour News 8 before the banquet. “Baseball is just a game, but life is real and purpose is real. This is the greatest that one can ever receive, is to come back and be restored and help others, because other lives are important.”
He said that when he was struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, he knew he needed help but wasn’t ready to get it until he met the woman who is now his wife, Tracy Strawberry.
It took five trips to rehab to finally conquer his demons. He said his story is an example that you should never give up on someone.
“That’s what the message will be about tonight, is people’s lives matter. We don’t understand where people come from, we don’t know the real issues inside them. We can just judge them from the outside, but we don’t know the hurt and pain. And brokenness is real, and people are hurting because of something that’s happened in their life,” he said.
He said his addiction stemmed from the abuse he suffered as a child.
“And then when God restores you, then he gives you the ability to go back and get those people who are hurting so they can be restored, too,” he said.