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Collected wisdom: Darryl Strawberry, former Major League Baseball standout

While the former Mets and Yankees star is proud of his baseball accomplishments, he's found a new purpose in life.
by Jacob Unruh Published: April 13, 2013

Darryl Strawberry was nearly an Oklahoman.

The former Major League Baseball star almost played at Oklahoma State, until the New York Mets selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1980 draft.

Strawberry eventually won four World Series titles, made eight All-Star Game appearances and was the 1983 NL Rookie of the Year.

But he constantly struggled off the field with drug addiction, personal problems and two bouts with colon cancer.

Now the 6-foot-6 outfielder is sober and an ordained minister. He travels the country alongside his wife Tracy, and he recently sat down with The Oklahoman after stops in Edmond, Warr Acres and Norman.

In Southern California there can be some areas where you can go down the wrong road, but I never went down the wrong road when I was younger. I didn't until I got the major leagues and led the life like that.

It's important for every young kid to have support from their parents because it allows the kids to grow in who they should be. There's a lot of emptiness when you don't have both parents in your life, and I think we all struggle with those issues thinking, “I'm not wanted; I'm not loved.” Most kids end up with low self-esteem and identity crisis because of having one parent, sometimes.

But I was fortunate to have my mom, who was there to give me my identity and what I was created for, and I was able to go out and reach it.

I got a real taste in high school what (stardom) was all about because I played basketball, too, and I played baseball. I was thinking about coming to Oklahoma State at the time out of high school, but I ended up getting drafted at the No. 1 pick, and I went in to pro ball and then I learned from there.

I learned the challenges of stardom and professional baseball and then I learned the challenges of not quitting, not giving up. If there is any key I can give to people that's what I try to tell them, “Don't quit because you never know the journey that sits in front of you. It might not look like it right now, but there's a different journey that you're looking for and that God has for you.” Once I was able to realize that and knowing there was a greater journey, there was something greater on the other side for me.

Twenty-one years old and you step into the big leagues and here it is, welcome to the big leagues. There I was introduced to coke and there I was introduced to the nightlife — guys going out and partying. I was introduced to a wrong life. It was unfortunate, but it happened.

I take responsibility for it because it was up to me to make the decisions and whether I was going to continue down that path. I take full responsibility for my actions and everything that occurred in my life.

We (the Mets) believed in winning and we won. We won a lot of games and we should have won more, but we didn't. We won that one year and I'm grateful for that.

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by Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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