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MLB Player Escapes Addiction by Finding Hope in Christ

Former Boston Red Sox player, Bernie Carbo, tells the story of going from hitting a home run in the 1975 World Series to drug addiction, two divorces, and considering suicide:

I stood in the batter’s box, awaiting the next pitch. It was Game 6 of the World Series. My team, the Boston Red Sox, trailed the Cincinnati Reds by three runs in the eighth inning. And we needed to win this game to stay alive. I was sweating bullets. With two men on base, I could even the score with a single swing. I took a swing and watched as the ball sailed over the centerfield wall. A home run!

You might imagine that hitting a clutch home run in a crucial World Series contest would be the defining moment of my life. The truth, however, is that I was totally miserable. I was addicted to drugs—I had even used some before the game. I spent the next few years bouncing around from team to team until I finally washed out of the big leagues altogether. I was only 32, and my career was over.

Over the next eight years I continued to use drugs. My wife and I bought a home in Florida, hoping to settle down. But for both of us, the drugs continued to flow. Finally, I told my wife we needed to slow down, but she refused—and filed for divorce. I continued using other drugs and abusing alcohol.

(After a second marriage and divorce) I met a former major leaguer, Dalton Jones who told me about Jesus and explained the difference Jesus could make in a life as troubled as mine. I prayed that day, and I believe Jesus began to work within my heart. Even so, I persisted in using drugs, to the point of losing all hope. Sitting in my home, I was ready to take my own life. I felt like I had tried everything, and I was worthless.

After suffering a panic attack, I was sent to a hospital, where I met a retired pastor. The pastor spoke with me about the Bible and he taught me about Jesus and how true healing could happen if I would trust in him. I grew in my understanding of what it means to live for Christ every day and to rely on him for forgiveness and strength.

In 1994, I had one final relapse, which plunged me into a sea of guilt and despair. Then I met Tammy, the woman who became my wife. She reminded me about Jesus and the atonement for sins through his death on the cross. And I believed once more that his blood was sufficient to cover all my transgressions and that we can depend on him for the grace we need to overcome the strongholds of addiction or any other habitual sin.

We’ve now been married for 26 years, and I’ve been clean the entire time. I want others to know there is hope! There is a way out of the deadly seduction of abusing drugs. Not only does Jesus Christ offer the way out, but he also offers the way into a life more joyful and abundant than anyone could imagine. Truly, our God is an awesome God.

Editor’s Note: Bernie Carbo is the co-founder of Diamond Club Ministry which is dedicated to bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to young people through evangelistic baseball camps.

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