Many know the name Darryl Strawberry: a sports legend, a baseball icon, a model athlete. He’s an eight-time all star, a four-time World Series champion, and I could go on. Darryl played 17 seasons for the Mets, the Dodgers, the Giants, and the Yankees. Known for his prodigious and numerous home runs, he never failed to please his abundant fans when he stepped up to the plate.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that Darryl was a broken man. Underneath the swagger and the success were a pain and a spiritual emptiness that fame, fortune, women, drugs, and the love of the game could never satisfy. However, God took hold of him, and now Darryl is a living example of how radically God can change a life. In his new book, Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life, Darryl says, “When I autograph a baseball card or some other memorabilia from my playing days, I tell fans and admirers I’m not the same person I was then.”
I not only had the delight of writing the foreword to his book, but I also was able to interview him about his difficult upbringing, which led to his greatness but also led him to his destructive behavior. I asked him about this in our conversation, and he tells how only God could heal him, transform him, and change the trajectory of his life.
Growing up in fear
It was very sad being a young kid because I was always in this fear of my father—because he was like such a monster coming home. You didn’t know what you were going to get on any given day or night. He would come home and he would be drunk at night. He would be loud. I was about 14 years old, and he came in loud again. We all woke up. My older brother Michael told him to just get out of here and leave us alone. He was just kind of running around the table talking about, well, “I’ll kill all of you guys.”
He pulled out a shotgun and said he would kill the whole family. Me and my brother kind of went into action there. He went and grabbed a butcher knife. I grabbed a frying pan. Had it not been for my mother—and she was a little petite woman—had it not been for her making us get out of that house, we were going to kill him that night. We had had it. She just yelled at us. She made us get out of that house and go down the street to the neighbor’s house.
We were so mad because we didn’t want to leave her. She was like, “I’ll be OK. You guys get out of this house.” From that night there was no more father there. After that he was not around us anymore. She removed him from us. That is the brokenness of who I was, and my brother Ronnie was, at the same time. We just suffered so many things. We were in such fear, and we were so empty on the inside.
Broken generations just continue to go on until you break up that cycle, and if you never break that cycle, the kids that come after you—your kids can be in the same cycle. I was able to break the cycle for my kids. They never saw me put my hands on them or yell at their mother or anything. Even though I was dysfunctional, I knew better not to touch them because I was so scarred and wounded. When you have wounds and scars, that is for real.
When God heals
I don’t care what kind of uniform you put on—you put on a baseball uniform, you could be a celebrity, you could be a police officer. Those scars and wounds will always be there until you let God heal you—it wasn’t until I let God heal me.
Putting on a baseball uniform did not make me a man. People need to hear that. Making millions of dollars and being privileged did not make me a man. It just made me a baseball player. I didn’t become a man until I met Jesus. When I met Jesus that is when I became a man and started to live the right way and understand the way a man should live.
Maybe you’ve had a difficult childhood, and you think there’s nothing you can do—you feel doomed to repeat the same sins, whether it’s abuse, alcoholism, or anger. But God can step in and break the cycle of sin. God can take your mess and turn it into a message.
You can have a new beginning in Jesus Christ. It happened for Darryl Strawberry, it happened for me, and it can happen for you.
Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.
You can read more of Darryl’s powerful story in his book, Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life. Receive a copy as our thank-you gift for your donation of any amount to Harvest Ministries.
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