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Darryl Strawberry Pleads for Court's Mercy after Breaking Parole in Suicidal Drug Binge

Aired November 3, 2000 - 2:39 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Another sad chapter today in the life of former baseball star Darryl Strawberry. In a courtroom today, for a hearing on his latest arrest, the eight-time all star outfielder told the judge he has lost his will to live. Strawberry, who is 39 years old and battling cancer, has a 10-year history of drug abuse. He suggested he went on a drug binge last month in hopes of killing himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARRYL STRAWBERRY, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER: Life hasn't been worth living anymore for me. And that is the honest-to- God truth. And that is where I've been. And that's the reason why I stopped taking chemo, because I figured I would rather die than to take chemo and feel that bad. You know, I am not afraid of death and the only thing I have to say is I am a good person. But I have totally made some bad decisions in my life. And I'm definitely not a danger to society. There's no question. I have never harmed anybody in my life and never will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: We're joined now by Nick Charles, senior correspondent for CNN-"Sports Illustrated." It sounded a little like the final arguments today. I mean, it stirs a lot of empathy.

But, at first blush, what did you think of it?

NICK CHARLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there are two thoughts here, Lou. One is that he is trying to elicit sympathy and stay out of jail. Because Strawberry obviously is a troubled individual. But a lot of people don't know he really hasn't spent more than a day in jail for all of his transgressions. At the same time, you're looking at a tragedy here, a man who has his lost his will to live, who's really run out of time, an athlete who squandered a great gift.

People are -- I think the emotions range anywhere from disgust, how many chances can this man have and how many times can he continue to sabotage himself? And to the other, to elicit this tremendous sympathy for a man who is clearly in trouble, physically, who is broke. He doesn't have much going for him. He certainly doesn't have so much self-esteem. WATERS: He sounds like he's in some kind of depression at the moment.

CHARLES: Well, he is severely distressed. Again, he is of no harm to anybody but himself. And that begs the question: Does this man really belong in jail? He has colon cancer. I talked to him a year and a half ago and it seemed that he was desperately, again, trying to turn the corner, and stated his argument very well that he had, in fact, that he was on the right track, that he had turned his wretched life around, as he called it. But, again, we don't know the demons that exist, the drug addiction, this powerful, powerful pull that has consumed him. It's a horror story, really, it's a horror story in progress, and we feel it's got to have a bad ending.

WATERS: Now the legal problem he is in now is because of a violation of probation involving drugs, once again.

CHARLES: Right, he went on a four-hour, crack-smoking binge and popped some pills again. And again, all the classic signs of somebody who just wants to escape. And this last plea and cry for help is that life was not worth living. But again, he had a $750,000 contract with the Yankees, small by today's standards. He blew that by violating the drug policy before -- and he is basically broke. He's still behind in child support payments, for example. There isn't a lot, he feels, to live for at this point.

WATERS: For a while, there, he had, even with all of his troubles, he had support from the Yankee organization. He has lost that. Does he have any support group or mechanism now?

CHARLES: Well, he had been living at a health care connection rehab center. You would think that this type of form group therapy would help a little bit. I have talked to George Steinbrenner and when George took him back in '95, he said, look, I am counting on you, I am banking on you, I'm giving you a chance, but if you ever betray me, you are in trouble.

He has had a lot of chances and that's where the disgust comes in for all of the pain that this guy is in and for his terrible condition. There are a lot of people who say, how can you have squandered everything? your money? your great gift? And again, when your body betrays you, Lou, and you have to go on trying to think about the art of living the rest of your life, and that may not be very long when you've got cancer, really, what is there left? It's tragic.

WATERS: It really is.

Nick Charles, thanks so much.

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