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Book Notes

August 29, 2013

Memoir reflects on the dark days of being an addict

(Continued)

The more cocaine took a hold of his life, the further south his career ventured. The Mets released him in 1995 but he had one more shining moment with the Yankees in 1996 when he threw a no-hitter, but that was it. His career soon became what might have been.

In the midst of his ongoing drug habit Gooden was involved in two disastrous marriages (how could they not be disastrous?) and fathered seven children. Any attempts to be a good husband and father were negated by his cocaine use. He tried rehab several times to no avail because his addicted “heart” wasn’t in it.

Nothing seemed to be able to change him. Not concerned family members, not rehab, not his collapsing career and not even time in prison. The rational side of Gooden would tell him to stop, but the addicted side always won out. This pattern of behavior went on for almost 25 years.

The incident that finally changed him was when he drove his 5-year-old son to school while physically impaired and got into an accident. Gooden was arrested and charged with child endangerment. A friend asked a television reality show, “Celebrity Rehab,” to get a hold of him and see if he would appear on the program with all expenses paid. Despite obvious reservations about exposing his most intimate thoughts in public, he eventually agreed.

This time the rehab had an effect because Gooden wanted to succeed. His determination and efforts in aftercare led the judge in his child endangerment case to give him probation instead of throwing him in jail. It gave Gooden one last chance to redeem himself. That was two years ago and as an alcoholic and drug addict it is still day-to-day whether the one-time superstar can remain clean.

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