Work in Sports
'I'd rather kill myself'
Strawberry stops chemotheraphy, wants release from jail
Updated: Saturday November 04, 2000 5:19 PM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- New York Yankees slugger Darryl Strawberry, under double assault from fierce drug addiction and colon cancer, stood in shackles before a judge Friday and matter-of-factly said he wanted to die.
"Life hasn't been worth living for me, that's the honest truth," the 38-year-old outfielder told Circuit Judge Florence Foster.
"I am not afraid of death," he said.
The eight-time All-Star told the judge he quit his chemotherapy, which makes him sick for days after a treatment, because it was too much to handle while behind bars.
Strawberry was in court for violating his house arrest by leaving an exclusive treatment center Oct. 25 to use drugs with a female friend. He was suspended from baseball for one year last February after testing positive for cocaine.
During a pause in the back-and-forth between lawyers, Strawberry addressed Foster: "Judge, there's something I want to say."
His voice didn't tremble. There were no tears.
"The last couple of weeks of my life have been downhill," he said. "I basically wanted to die.
"At the time I would rather just go ahead and kill myself. I couldn't kill myself because of the fact of my five children. I started to look at them and that wouldn't be fair to them for me to kill myself that way.
"I'm an addict, I go out and use drugs. I figure the drugs may kill me."
He asked to be released, telling the judge: "I'm not a danger to society. I've never harmed nobody; I never will."
His wife, Charisse, who has stood at his side or come to court in a show of support, wasn't there.
Foster delayed a decision until Nov. 9 so she can hear from Strawberry's oncologist and psychiatrist.
Prosecutors asked that Strawberry be kept behind bars, saying he is a danger to others. They had no response to his death wish.
Defense attorney Joseph Ficarrotta pleaded for leniency, saying without the chemotherapy, Strawberry will die.
"He needs treatment," Ficarrotta said. "The court is well aware this man is a very sick individual.
"This man is worth saving, your honor."
The Yankees did not return calls to their Tampa offices for comment.
Dr. Chris Garrett, an oncologist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, said interruptions in chemotherapy treatments do not necessarily lessen the effectiveness of the drugs against the disease. Sometimes, however, if the delays between treatments are too long, the cancer will continue to grow.
Strawberry had been living at HealthCare Connections of Tampa, a private treatment facility that caters to upscale professionals and celebrities who are addicts.
Strawberry's house arrest stemmed from violating probation following April 1999 felony drug charges and for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.
He was arrested again in September for causing a minor traffic accident while driving under the influence of prescription drugs. He faces a court date for that later this month.
He is being held in the jail's medical ward, and would be taken to a doctor if he so desired.
Strawberry's suspension from baseball earlier this year was his third drug-related suspension in five years.
Timothy Sweeney, a lawyer for the treatment center, told the judge Strawberry was shaken by his latest arrest and now that he's had a taste of jail, he'd be more motivated to avoid it.
Sweeney said most of Strawberry's previous drug treatments had been unsuccessful because "people have been star-struck by him."
Until his most recent arrest, the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year had not spent more than a day in jail despite a series of run-ins with the law.
Ronald Dock, drug intervention coordinator for the minor league Tampa Yankees and a former addict who befriended Strawberry, said he saw the slugger's crash coming.
"He's as low as he's ever been," Dock said. "He's doing some soul searching. For the first time in his life he's in a cell by himself. He's never been alone since he's been in baseball.
"I knew this would get his attention, if it didn't kill him," Dock said. "Thank God it didn't kill him."