In the 1980s and 1990s, Major League Baseball right fielder Darryl Strawberry made some great plays.
As a player for the New York Mets and Yankees, he earned four World Series titles.
He also battled personal demons.
Suspended multiple times for substance abuse, Strawberry served time in jail and was accused of domestic violence.
He got divorced and went to rehab. He didn't get better. Then, he turned to God.
The torment ended when he gave his life to Jesus, Strawberry says. Today, he runs Strawberry Ministries and travels the world sharing his Christian testimony. There is a purpose for everything, he tells audiences.
Strawberry will speak Thursday (May 16) at Tampa Bay Prayer Night at George M. Steinbrenner Filed.
"Darryl has an incredible redemption story," said Porter Smith, chairman for the event. "He had such a tumultuous life and we all watched it play out on ESPN. To go through all of that and find hope. A lot of times people don't realize hope is available to them. Darryl's testimony shows people no matter what, God still loves them."
In 1971, former Tampa mayor Dick Greco founded an annual Tampa Prayer Breakfast. For 45 years, the Tampa chapter of the Christian Business Men's Connection hosted the event. This year, the group decided to move the free event to the evening and invite the entire community. Men, women and children may attend Tampa Bay Prayer Night.
Guests will listen to speakers and pray together for the community and its leaders.
"We wanted to open this up to a larger audience," Smith said. "We are really trying to get people connected, to create an environment where people can share their faith."
Smith, who attends Radiant Church in Tampa, considers Strawberry's testimony powerful enough to bring people to Christ.
The athlete agreed to speak at the event free of charge.
"He said, 'Absolutely, I'm in,'" Smith said.
For more information and tickets, visit tampabayprayer.com. Tickets are also available at the door. The gates open at 6 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m. Concessions will be available.
Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]