Mentally Strong Person of the Week: World Series Champion Darryl Strawberry

All-Star Games, Addiction, Prison, Rehab, and Transformation

Darryl Strawberry is the mentally strong person of the week.

Verywell / Julie Bang

In the “Mentally Strong Person of the Week” series, I’ll share wisdom from some of my favorite guests on my podcast, “Mentally Strong People." I’ll explain the strategies they use to stay mentally strong and then give you my take (as a therapist) on how you can apply these strategies to your own life.

Darryl Strawberry spent 17 years playing Major League Baseball. He played for both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. He was an eight-time MLB All-Star and a four-time World Series Champion who was especially known for his signature bat twirls and home run hits.

Yet Darryl’s success on the baseball field didn’t make him feel happy. He had many unhealed emotional wounds from childhood that haunted him.

And so for many years, he struggled with addiction and legal problems. He began making headlines for all the wrong reasons and was suspended from baseball. He was eventually diagnosed with cancer and began feeling suicidal.

Darryl Strawberry

My pain led me to my greatness. But my greatness would eventually lead me to my destructive behavior.

— Darryl Strawberry

Fortunately, though, Darryl’s story didn’t end there. He got released from prison, returned to his faith, and quit using substances. Now, he spends his time inspiring other people to transform their lives as well. He’s even written a new book called Turn Your Season Around.

While Darryl shared a lot of excellent tips for building mental strength and staying strong during our podcast interview, here are three of my favorite strategies. 

Balance faith with personal responsibility.

Darryl talked about the importance of doing the work to stay strong even though he’s a man of faith. Rather than passively hope God will change his life, he takes an active role in improving himself. He said he believes in the power of prayer. But he also believes he has the power to create positive change—if he puts the time and effort into it. 

Darryl Strawberry

You have to get up and do your routine or enter in worship or reading and studying.

— Darryl Strawberry

My Take

Spirituality and faith can play a huge role in mental strength. But sometimes people believe if they have faith, they don’t need to take any action to grow mentally stronger.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people think they have to be completely responsible for every aspect of their mental strength-building journey—and that faith shouldn’t play a role.

Darryl makes it clear that you can have faith while also accepting personal responsibility for your actions. Like many mentally strong people, he takes action to improve himself while also trusting in a higher power to help him.

Keep your environment healthy.

Darryl talked about the importance of ensuring that the people and things he surrounds himself with are good for him. 

He shared a story about how he asked to get fired from the reality TV show The Apprentice because he knew being around people who were drinking was not good for him. Removing temptations from his environment helps him stay mentally strong. 

Darryl Strawberry

If I don't safeguard myself, I'm going to go back to being what everybody else is, you know, just being a part of the party. And that's not something I wanted to do.

— Darryl Strawberry

My Take

Sometimes people assume mental strength will help you withstand all temptations. They might view “quitting” as a sign of weakness.

But quitting a toxic job or choosing to stop spending time with people who engage in unhealthy habits is actually a sign of strength.

When you’re surrounded by unhealthy temptations, you’ll waste a lot of energy just trying to resist. You won’t have enough energy left over to focus on other things. Create an environment that helps you succeed, and you’ll have the strength to devote to more important things.

Tell someone when you’re struggling.

Darryl talked about the importance of reaching out for help. Yet he acknowledged just how hard it can be to raise your hand and say you’re struggling. He said connecting with other people is what helped transform his life. His wife, his sponsor, and many other people helped him stop abusing cocaine and alcohol. 

Darryl Strawberry

Don't worry about what anybody else is going to think because I do know one thing. We all have problems, and we all will struggle with some things in this lifetime.

— Darryl Strawberry

My Take

It’s hard to ask for help—especially in today’s world. Most people like to appear as though they’re happy and thriving, particularly on social media. So you might feel like you’re the only one struggling. 

But hiding your pain and your problems only makes things worse. Whether you decide to confide in a friend, family member, your physician, or a therapist, talking about what you’re going through can really help.

To hear more of James' mental strength suggestions, listen to the full episode on my Mentally Strong People podcast. Each week, I’ll share another Mentally Strong Person and explain how their strategies can help you think, feel, and do your best in life.

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