Summer 2024

Former pitcher Jason Grimsley details addiction, God's grace: 'Now I know why I'm here'

In 2006, MLB pitcher Jason Grimsley was busted for using performance-enhancing drugs, thus ending a pro baseball career that had consumed his life for 15 years. By 2015, Grimsley was mired in the depths of depression and addiction, and he tried to take his life.

Grimsley, now 55, tells his incredible story in his new book, “Cross Stitched: One Man’s Journey from Ruin to Restoration,” with the hopes of inspiring others and pointing them to God. All proceeds from the book will go to Emerging Grace Ministries, a faith-based non-profit committed to ending adolescent sex trafficking.

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“Now that I look back [on my life], I want to point to the Lord and His grace and His salvation,” Grimsley told USA Today last week. “There’s no reason I should be alive today. I should have died. Now I know why I’m here.”

After Grimsley’s career — in which he compiled 42 wins and a 4.77 ERA with seven different franchises — came to an abrupt end, he, his wife, Dana, and their three children returned to Jason’s home state of Texas. However, without baseball, his life began to unravel. It started with alcohol abuse, but Grimsley eventually graduated to cocaine and methamphetamine use.

“I was taking anything I could get my hands on,” he told USA Today. “I just wanted to be numb. I didn’t want to think what kind of person I was, or what I was doing to myself and my family. I was constantly hiding it.”

His marriage was strained, his relationship with his kids suffered and his friendships nearly evaporated entirely. He decided to give up.

High on cocaine and full of vodka and beer, Grimsley wrote goodbye letters and made calls to his family and friends. One of his best friends, former Kansas City Royals teammate Jeremy Affeldt, will never forget the voicemail he received from Grimsley: “Hey man, I love you. I’ve always loved you. Always. I’m just tired of hurting people. I’ve had enough. I just don’t want to do this anymore.”

Then, he tried to shoot himself in the head.

“I was waiting, but nothing happened,” Grimsley said. “I guess I didn’t take off the safety feature. I didn’t have the [guts] to do it again. I just remember thinking, ‘I can’t even do that right.'”

He was found roughly six hours later, wandering aimlessly through the woods. After going through drug and alcohol rehab and psych wards, buoyed by steadfast support from those around him, Grimsley was on the path to recovery. But most of all, he turned to God.

Having experienced the redemption only God can provide, Grimsley was spurred on to help others who may be struggling. He began telling his story to church groups outside Houston, but at the urging of Dana as well as pastors and friends, he decided to take his story public with his new book.

“Those demons, they don’t discriminate,” Grimsley told USA Today. “It’s all the same pattern. It’s the same road, oftentimes the expressway, that everybody is on.”

Joe Bick, Grimsley’s baseball agent since 1986 and his lifelong friend, remembers well the support he received from Grimsley when Bick’s son passed away from a heroin overdose in 2015, even when Grimsley was struggling himself.

“Jason is among the group of guys that I hope will eventually carry me to my grave,” Bick told USA Today. “He is a very special individual in my life. … You see how his life has changed like it has. It’s one of the most awesome things I’ve seen happen in my life. He has done a complete 180 in terms of opening up about himself.”

Grimsley finally understood God’s calling on his life, and it wasn’t to win World Series titles.

“I thought my purpose in life was to play baseball,” Grimsley said. “Now, I realize that wasn’t it. My purpose is right here, right now. No doubt this was God’s plan all along. I want people to get a glimpse of the thing I lived through. My success. My failures. Why they were my failures. Why I believe I got through my failures.

“All I truly want to do is help.”

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