Saint Leo University, the oldest Catholic college in Florida, which has over 15,000 students in attendance, welcomed a visit from Darryl Strawberry on March 26th.
Touring the campus, he met with students, student athletes, staff, alumni, college hopefuls, addiction professionals, and local residents, sharing his story, his beliefs, and his hopes for future generations.
He, along with Ron Dock, later gave heartfelt speeches from the first floor of St. Leo’s Benedictine Hall. There were so many in attendance that the lecture had to also be streamed live to another location on campus, packed with yet more interested people.
The crowds were notably engaged by Darryl and Ron’s words, which detailed personal accounts of Darryl’s fall from stardom, his battles with addiction, his recovery through faith and perseverance, and his concerns about youths of today falling victim to the same fate he suffered for many years.
Martin Fennelly, of The Tampa Tribune, covered the event:
“It was inspiring,” Saint Leo student and basketball player Gabby Ortiz said. “He went through the lowest points in his life and still made it through.”
… He talked of a world beyond athletics, one filled with temptations.
“That he rebounded is an awesome story,” said Saint Leo senior outfielder and captain Bobby Twitty, who went to St. Petersburg Catholic High. “He told us to keep our heads on straight and who we are off the field is what matters.”
There were many in attendance who were inspired by the things they’d heard that day. “Sitting with the student body … They were intrigued and interested in what [Darryl and Ron] had to say. They spoke from the heart,” Debbie Diaz-Ramos said of the speeches she witnessed. She, along with her 15-year-old daughter, Sabrina Ramos, were thrilled that they were able to attend. “It was great to have something to talk about with my daughter … To have her realize and understand the damage that drugs can do to you. For her to hear about how someone can rise, and fall, and then rise again.”
The lecture, which lasted over an hour, was followed by a friendly photo op and meet & greet with Darryl and Ron. They offered words of encouragement for young students, reminding them that not only is addiction a road best left untraveled, but that everyone can pull themselves out of the downward spiral that drugs & alcohol create, so long as they make recovery, and a better future, their #1 priority.
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For more about Saint Leo University, visit: St. Leo University’s website
Cover photo credit: Martin Fennelly, Tampa Tribune Staff