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COMEBACK KID?

The metal folding chairs are lined up cathedral-style in the living room of the small downtown house. That makes sense, because God knows the people who come here need help.

The chairs fill up quickly as the air becomes heavy with smoke. By the time the first reading begins, the room is downright hot. The talk is of surrender, powerlessness and an overpowering disease.

One man, wearing sweat pants and a cut-off T-shirt, recalls the night he gave up cocaine, the nightlong binge that ended when the pretty women went home, the lights went out and he was left stoned and alone. A woman in sharp business attire shares the story of how she lost it all and now is on the way back. Another woman, wearing polyester shorts and a purple T-shirt, talks about how she almost walked out on her daughter, but has now been clean for months.

Sitting quietly in the back of the room is a man with a diamond earring, a silk shirt and black leather sandals. He listens as the men and women share their tragic experiences. He fidgets in his seat, like everyone else, as the meeting drags past an hour.

When it's over, he joins arms with the others in a big circle as they recite the serenity prayer. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change "

The man is Dwight Gooden. This is now part of his life.

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