From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Strawberry was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball, a perennial All-Star who was dubbed The Black Ted Williams. Sadly, his effortless production on the field belied his troubles off it.

Growing up in South Central L.A. with an abusive, negligent father left Strawberry unsure on how to become a man, and playing pro baseball provided the foundation and means to become an alcohol and drug addict. Thanks to Strawberry’s hard-living lifestyle, his attempts at domestic stability are colossal failures, and his halfhearted attempts at rehab lead to jail time and a damaged reputation.

At his lowest point, Strawberry turns to God, leading him to redemption. The sheer turbulence of his life—which also includes two bouts of cancer in his 30s—certainly makes for a readable book, though not a probing one. The clichéd writing and Strawberry’s refusal to delve deeper into his past (a troubled older brother; his strained relationship with pro athlete son, DJ) make it hard to bond with Strawberry, and his newfound spirituality provides only another barrier.

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