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Hannity

Strawberry Writes Book on Life Lessons

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And we're back now with eight-time all-star, four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry. He's got a brand-new book out, "Straw: Finding My Way," which chronicles his experiences with sports, substances and his own health.

Darryl Strawberry, good to see you.

DARRYL STRAWBERRY, AUTHOR, "STRAW": Thanks you so much. Great to be here.

HANNITY: I can tell you the '69 Mets, you know. So I watched you very closely in New York. It was hard to watch you in your personal struggles, because it was all over the papers, all over the news, all the time.

But we'll start with the good news. The good news is your life is on track. You found your faith in life.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

STRAWBERRY: Right.

HANNITY: No more substance abuse. All this stuff is gone.

STRAWBERRY: Well, the good news is I found joy. I found the truth. And when you find the truth you are able to be free. That's the most important thing. How long does it take a person to find the truth? We don't know.

HANNITY: Do you worry that you may slip back? Does that cross your mind?

STRAWBERRY: No, you know, it doesn't cross my mind, because the thing is, I'm so focused on the purpose — the purpose for life. It's not baseball, putting the uniform on, getting cheers. It's the purpose of helping someone else.

You know, with your experience, what you go through in life, if you're able to — if you're able to use the gift the right way, you kind of find yourself doing the things that you've been called to do. And my thing is helping young people. You know, I do things for young people in detention centers, young men in their troubled teens. And also, you know, I have a foundation with children with autism.

HANNITY: You tell a story in the book. And I want to get to that in a second. But I want to start — we'll start at the beginning of the story. And you actually said, you know, talking about baseball, you said you were — you said you were excelling as a baseball player but you were failing miserably as a man.

Now, that's a pretty tough condemnation of yourself. I know you're going through tough times, but you really feel you were failing as a human being?

STRAWBERRY: Oh, no question about it. I always felt like baseball was more of my outlet. You know, I could get on the diamond and I could escape. Because I can — I'm able to do that well. I'm able to excel at that. Because I've learned and trained myself for that.

But when you don't train yourself for life and when you go — you come in, like as a young man, with all these great expectations and you never, you know, really loved yourself and cared about yourself deeply, because of all the scars that have been upon your life from childhood, you know, you've been affected.

HANNITY: And those that don't know you, you write about this in detail in the book. I felt sorry for reading your life story. Because I'm very close to my kids. And you talked about a father who was a raging alcoholic. To quote you, he gave a whooping, you know, is a term...

STRAWBERRY: Yes. Whooping.

HANNITY: My father used to take the belt off, but we still had a good relationship. Yours was a bad relationship. And that was where — fundamentally, this is where your problems started?

STRAWBERRY: It was dysfunction, you know, as far as the relationship in the household, you know, because my brothers and sisters and my mom, you know, we all was loving, caring, kind to people.

And my father was like the total opposite. You know, he was this angry person, very bitter, and he was a raging alcoholic. And every time he came home there was another soap opera.

You know, we finally ran into the major soap opera and my older brother Michael told just get out of here and leave us alone. And he pulls out a shot gun and he talks about killing us all. And see, there is where me and my brother Ronny, you know, he goes and he grab a knife. And I grab a knife and a skillet. And this is the thing we looked at it, you know; nobody's going to die here but him.

HANNITY: But that has — you know, that has an impact. You say you didn't even like yourself.

STRAWBERRY: Right.

HANNITY: And so you go through all these years in baseball. You even tell a story of when the Mets won the championship in 1986. You know, you guys were up. All the players were up all night. You guys were drinking, doing drugs. You show up at your own parade, and you're all hung over and still wasted from the night before?

STRAWBERRY: It was a long night. No question about it.

HANNITY: But the game — a seven-game series.

STRAWBERRY: A seven-game series, you know. Of course, it was a major party in the drinking and the partying started from that night. And it was — it was a long night for all of us.

You know, I mean, when you look at those years of the '80s, we were a close-knit bunch but we pretty well stuck together.

And the thing it was if we were going to get in trouble we were going to get in trouble together. You know, we wasn't going to leave, you know, our teammates out left on the side.

But that's why we were so successful to be able to win that year, because we stuck together.

But it's the lifestyle. Yes, when you don't like yourself you always drown yourself.

HANNITY: And you go into detail about this. One of the other things they had — it seems that it's very common among celebrities and among athletes. And that is that, you know what? They give in to all the temptations.

You had women throwing themselves at you after every game? Was there ever a game they didn't throw themselves at you? Pretty much.

STRAWBERRY: Pretty much. It was an open door.

HANNITY: And drinking was very common among the players. Drugs. Is this a result of the fame or you're don't appreciate it, that you're too young? Or celebrity maybe is a bad thing because your ego gets out of control?

STRAWBERRY: I don't think that celebrities don't appreciate it. I think it's the wind-down of our life, you know, because all of the, you know, attention that's focused. And I talk about it in my book, about you know, how I felt for guys like Britney Spears and what she experienced. I know that. I've been there. I know what it's like to be in the public eye and people calling...

HANNITY: They brutalized you.

STRAWBERRY: Yes. And they tear you down, and then you don't know who you are and you find yourself, you know, doing things to escape. You know, and it's just a big escape for all of us.

HANNITY: You tell a pretty touching story, though, where you're — you tell about the dark side of your life and — with your ex-wife.

STRAWBERRY: Yes.

HANNITY: And you go into great detail. I mean — and you got physically violent with her.

STRAWBERRY: Yes.

HANNITY: And then you get to this other side of your life after you've been through — beaten down by everybody. And your life ended. You walk into the center with your current wife and — with kids with autism, and somehow you connected with them when most people could not.

STRAWBERRY: Wow. You know, it changed my life. It was — I walked out of there, and I felt the spirit all over me where my life was supposed to change, because I was supposed to step into their life.

And I think that a lot of — a lot of the reason why I can relate, because it's like I felt — I felt their pain. But I already knew what pain was like, because I had my own pain. And I said — you know, I said to my wife, I said, "You know what? We need to do something. That's something we need to do."

HANNITY: That's when you built the foundation?

STRAWBERRY: Yes. We built it.

HANNITY: You said "that day changed my life. I suddenly knew why God had kept me around round through all the struggles." And you went through two bouts if cancer.

STRAWBERRY: Cancer. Yes.

HANNITY: And everyone remembers, after the Yankees world series, you had cancer diagnosed right there after.

So that — that was what you felt God was trying to tell you all along?

STRAWBERRY: I understood that it wasn't about me.

HANNITY: Yes.

STRAWBERRY: I finally got it.

HANNITY: The light went on.

STRAWBERRY: The light went out. When you, you know — and some people lives, many are called but few are chosen. And I believe I was one of those children ones to do something great for someone else. And I realized when the light went on that it wasn't about me. It wasn't about what I accomplished and what I didn't accomplish, what my failures were in life. It was actually about other people.

HANNITY: And you felt that all along, like this — God was sending you messages and you just were tuning it out? You weren't listening; you were just living for Darryl?

STRAWBERRY: Of course. I was living for the world more than anything. It was whatever appetite, you know, you want, you go out there and get. And until that, you know, finally existing part came in and the spiritual awakening came in, and when I understood it wasn't about me. It was about others. That's when — that's when the real gift came in. That's when I was able to come to a point and prosper.

HANNITY: As somebody's who's read very closely and watched your — your entire career and watched your ups and downs, you know, this really seems that you're really on solid ground. It's great news. It's a great story of redemption. And I think a lot of people that are struggling could learn a lot from it.

Darryl Strawberry, you're a great American. Thanks for being with us.

STRAWBERRY: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

HANNITY: Can you teach me to hit home runs?

STRAWBERRY: Yes, I'll work on that. I don't know if I could do that anymore.

HANNITY: Thanks, Darryl.

STRAWBERRY: Thank you.

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