As he stood before the Teen Challenge banquet, Darryl Strawberry used his story to help organizers spread the word about their ministry.
Teen Challenge is a 12 to 15 month program designed to help children struggling from issues ranging from addiction to legal problems.
The banquet, which took place on Thursday, Sept. 7, in Tulsa, was designed to raise funds for three of the ministries facilities including Brush Creek, a boy's home in Jay, and New Lifehouse, a girls' facility in Disney.
Strawberry, 55, is best known for his time in Major League Baseball as a right fielder starting with the New York Mets.
He is a four time World Series champion, played in eight all-star games and was rookie of the year in 1983.
The fundraiser which drew more than 600 guests included a dinner and live auction for various sport memorabilia. It raised a total of $45,000 with a goal to raise an additional $50,000 through direct appeal and other fundraising.
Strawberry, who is now a pastor, spoke about his own struggle with addiction.
“I was broken before I put my uniform on and my father was an alcoholic," Strawberry said. "I didn’t have a godly life when I was a baseball player I was wealthy, had cars… but I was dying inside."
Strawberry said one player on his team, Gary Carter, "lived the right way" while the two were playing.
“I didn’t want to be an alcoholic drug addict but I was just like the rest of my teammates," Strawberry said. "Fourteen years ago, I was three million dollars in debt and didn’t have a driver’s license, had cancer twice, lost my left kidney and ended up in a Florida state prison because of addiction.
“My wife Tracy was pulling me out of dope houses 14 years ago, I was shooting dope, I was smoking crack, she had one year clean and was telling me you going to live.”
Then something changed for Strawberry.
"The lord came into my life and said that you’re going to preach and I said you’ve got to be kidding," Strawberry said, saying he chose to support the Teen Challenge ministry because he see himself in the students.
"People like my wife helped me and I got well and I need to help others," Strawberry said. "It’s about finding the right way and we need to get back to biblical principles, teach them about Christ because that’s why so many kids are dying.”
Strawberry took some time afterwards to shake hands and take pictures with the guests.
During the live auction he bid on the first item to get it started paying $525 for a signed Bryan Bosworth football.
As the evening was winding down he grabbed a student from the program and presented him with the football as a gift.
Outside of speaking at fundraising events, Strawberry has a ministry designed around overcoming addiction to drugs and alcohol, and preventing relapses.
Approximately 50,000 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses in 2015 up from 24,000 in 2002.
Organizers said groups like Teen Challenge aim to help fight the current rise in drug use especially among teens.