All Star Pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden Reveals the Truth about His Drug Addiction and Recovery
By Eden Laikin
A group of 7-to-12 year-old soccer enthusiasts had the opportunity this weekend to meet with and learn from several members of the New York Cosmos, on the team’s own practice fields, where the kids were given some practical soccer tips and shown some techniques from the pros.
Other children played in the four huge inflatables nearby, had pictures taken for identification cards and received free back-to-school supplies. They were all among nearly 1,000 people who enjoyed a day of health and fitness advice, medical screenings and sports activities at Nassau County’s Annual Health, Fitness and Sports Expo.
Attendees who arrived at the event early got another treat at the Expo – autograph signing and photo opportunities with former NY Mets & NY Yankees All-Star pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden. Later on, Gooden – the World Series champ and youngest Cy Young award winner in baseball history – spoke about how his drug addiction affected his promising career as well as his relationships and personal life. And he told about how he got and stayed clean.
“I had an amazing career in baseball,” Gooden told those gathered at the stage. “But what I enjoy talking about most today is my recovery…I have a sponsor, I do step work and I attend my meetings.”
Gooden was 21 when he helped the 1986 Mets win the World Series, but missed the celebratory parade because he couldn’t stop using drugs. Drug addiction nearly killed him. Doc came clean about his addiction last year in his book, “Doc: A Memoir.” Today, clean and sober for almost 3 years, he works with and speaks to at-risk children and adults to try and impart his experiences so that it might keep someone else from going through the problems that he went through.
Also participating in the Expo was 6-year old Isaiah Bird of Long Beach who wrestles with the Long Beach Gladiators, despite being “differently-abled.” Isaiah was born with no legs but it has never stopped him from doing what he wanted. Before he joined Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano on stage at the event, Isaiah and his teammates played in the event’s children’s area. On stage, County Executive Mangano presented a citation to Isaiah for the powerful example he’s shown to others.
When asked what he wanted to say to those in the audience, Isaiah took the microphone from Mangano, said “I want to say thank you for everything!” and then gave back the mike.
Isaiah’s mentor and inspiration, Rohan Murphy, was at the Expo as well. Rohan lost his legs at birth and went on to become an American Paralympian, wrestler, and motivational speaker. Both did wrestling demonstrations at the Expo.
Martial Arts students of Olympic Coach YH Park, did Taekwondo demonstrations as well.
Raffle prizes included a 51-inch flat screen tv; 4 Mets field level seats; and some signed sports memorabilia from the New York Islanders, Rangers and Knicks.
The “renewed” New York Cosmos won the 2013 North American Soccer League Soccer Bowl Championship their first season back. New York Cosmos David Diosa, Jimmy Nealis and Jimmy Mulligan greeted fans at the Expo, which promoted the importance of sports and living an active, healthy lifestyle.
County Executive Mangano thanked the sponsors of the Aug 9th event, saying the Expo would not have been the success it was without them. The title sponsor was North Shore-LIJ Health System and the premier sponsor was Winthrop University Hospital.
The other sponsors were Nassau University Medical Center; who is represented here to today by President and CEO Vic Politi; 1st Equity Title & Closing Services; the New York Cosmos; PGA Super Store; Bethpage Credit Union Roosevelt Branch; Health Plus Amerigroup; Medytox Solutions; Hofstra School of Health & Human Services; Blu Chip Marketing and St. Joseph Hospital