Strawberry has desire to leave lasting legacy

MONDAY, JAN. 27, 2014

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Darryl Strawberry will always be tied to his former baseball exploits.

He’s now trying to help others avoid the pitfalls that plagued his career with the opening of his second drug rehab facility in two years.

Strawberry and his wife, Tracy – both ordained ministers – were in central Florida on Friday for the opening of their second drug rehabilitation and treatment center. The Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center will be focused on helping former athletes and others deal with the issues that once followed them both, as well as the new ones – like concussions – that face today’s generation of athletes.

“I think the legacy we all want to leave is a positive one,” said Strawberry, who’s been clean more than a decade. “Baseball don’t leave you a positive legacy. That’s just a game and that comes and goes. But I think the most important thing is for people to see they’re not a mistake.”

The new center joins one already open in Texas, and the couple plans to open a third facility close to where they reside in St. Louis later this year.

It offers a 28-day residential treatment program that can treat up to 60 patients at a time for addiction and substance abuse. It also has a program to help athletes address post-playing issues, as well as anyone suffering long-term effects of concussions and traumatic brain injury.

During Strawberry’s journey to sobriety he was once told by a treating doctor that he would never make it out of his addiction. He said he wants these new facilities to be a place where patients never hear anything similar.

“Drug addiction is an illness, and those that don’t know that have a tendency to criticize and point fingers. I was one guy they pointed fingers at and said ‘This guy is a cocaine freak,’ you know?” he said. “They didn’t know the depths of it. Today is a sign to show you that this is about recovery.”

Tracy Strawberry met Darryl nearly 15 years ago at a narcotics rehab convention in Tampa. Both twice divorced, they began dating while both fought their addictions.

Getting past their various hurdles they eventually moved to Missouri, and they were married in 2006.

Not long after that they started their non-denominational ministry, which Tracy said is the core of the curriculum she helped write for the clinic. But she said it doesn’t jam the religious component down patient’s throats.

“You can’t be so supernatural that you’re not natural,” she said.

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