Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the greatest superstars that baseball has ever seen. For a time in the ’90s, Griffey was the biggest name in the sport. Despite being the son of a star MLB player himself, Griffey surpassed his father thanks to his golden bat and vibrant personality. However, the world was almost robbed of this when Griffey attempted to take his own life by suicide before his MLB career even began.
Ken Griffey Jr.’s MLB career
Selected as the No. 1 pick in the 1987 MLB draft, Griffey was not yet old enough to vote and already had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Two years later, he debuted with the Seattle Mariners alongside his father. Although not yet a star for the team, Griffey showed the promise that made him the No. 1 pick almost immediately. He was third in Rookie of the Year voting and only getting better.
By year two, a star was born. Griffey was one of the best fielders in the league; he could also send the ball out of the park at a clip that nobody could boast since Hank Aaron. By his second year, the then-20-year-old was an MVP candidate and an All-Star.
Had Griffey not been injured for long portions of the latter half of his career, he may have been the home run king over Barry Bonds. However, despite these injuries, he is still one of the best to do it, retiring with 630 Home Runs and more honors than most could ever dream of. With so much going for him, even at an early age, one might think that Griffey was excited to see his future. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Griffey Jr. tries to take his own life
Teams held Griffey to higher standards as the son of a baseball star. Although he was the No. 1 pick in the draft, his father expected him to work even harder. Fed up with not only his father and his coaches, but with life in general, Griffey took drastic actions. After an argument with his father at the end of a hard stretch, Griffey had enough.
“It seemed like everyone was yelling at me in baseball, then I came home, and everyone was yelling at me there,” Griffey told the Seattle Times. “I got depressed. I got angry. I didn’t want to live.”
With all of this in mind, Griffey swallowed 277 aspirin pills in an attempt to end his life. While Griffey considered taking his own life before, this was the first and only time he followed through. Luckily, he failed. After spending time in the hospital, Griffey emerged. At the time, fans didn’t know the cause of his visit. But several years later, Griffey confirmed why he went to the hospital.
Griffey Jr. gets better all the time
Eventually, reports NESN, Griffey learned to find peace with himself and became an advocate for children who may be thinking about doing what he did as a teenager. In the same interview where he confirmed the story, Griffey sent a clear message to children who may feel trapped by life and want to escape.
“Don’t ever try to commit suicide,” Griffey pled to the paper. “I am living proof how stupid it is.”
It’s common for people to think that athletes have it all together thanks to their fame and talent. Griffey, however, proves that there are still struggles inside all of us. Even a home run king and son of a millionaire athlete faces similar struggles to everyone else. Now, Griffey continues advocating for self-care and a serious approach to mental health concerns.
How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.