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Willie Mays Aikens: “Every day, every game of the World Series…I snorted cocaine”

May 2, 2012, 3:30 PM EDT

Willie Aikens

For those unfamiliar, Willie Mays Aikens used to play first base for the Kansas City Royals.  He first came to most people’s attention when he had a breakout performance in the 1980 World Series.

He later came to people’s attention in 1983 when he Willie Wilson, Vida Blue, and Jerry Martin of the Kansas City Royals were convicted of conspiracy to buy cocaine from undercover federal agents and were senteced to 90 days in federal prison. And then, finally and most tragically, he came to people’s attention in the mid 90s when he was arrested for selling crack and was sent to federal prison for nearly 14 years.  Then he was forgotten.

He was released from prison in 2008, however, and after that began working in the community and working construction jobs in an effort to make something of a life that had been derailed.  Last year, he was hired by his old team, the Kansas City Royals.  He was home again, getting a second chance.

Today Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation has a fantastic feature — video and in print — on Aikens, his rise, his fall from grace and his redemption.  It’s harrowing and wonderful at the same time and I highly recommend that you give it a read and a view.

  1. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Nice to read a heartwarming story right now (if anyone’s been reading deadspin/espn recently and is a football fan, i’m sure you’ve read already). Also good on the Royals giving him a second chance.

  2. wrg885 - May 2, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Why not? Who cared in 1980? Like, who cared about weed in 1968? End this so & so did cocmethsterodicalvlodimethaline BS and torturing players from past generations about the HOF and their ‘scientific talent’. Everyone Just shut up and let me enjoy a baseball game without congress and a president throwing out the 1st pitch, humidifiers, global warming, asshole personalities (looking at you, Harper, B.) and the FDA telling us red meat is bad…I’m sorry everyone on HBT….I used to like NASCAR. I used to like NFL. I’m 26 and there’s something about baseball that lets me continue to cling to baseball unlike the those. I may sound like a simpleton, but I just want baseball.

    • brokea$$lovesmesomeme - May 2, 2012 at 6:52 PM

      I agree with you 100% you are a simpleton.

    • stex52 - May 2, 2012 at 8:59 PM

      I understand, WGR. It won’t work, but I understand.

  3. pjmitch - May 2, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Please tell these ex-players to stop talking!!!!!

    • ditto65 - May 2, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      no.

  4. mybrunoblog - May 2, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Quick, somebody call Oil Can Boyd.

  5. stlouis1baseball - May 2, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Great article. Thanks for sharing the link Craig. Glad to see him turning things around.

  6. SmackSaw - May 2, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    When he came up with the Angels, he was a revelation. It’s too bad the Devil’s Dandruff took hold. Hopefully he’s learned something.

  7. exhibits5 - May 2, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I remember when I used to go see the royals in springtraining he was a rookie. first baseman

    • The Baseball Idiot - May 2, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      Actually, he was a rookie with Califronia. He was a second year player with the Royals.

  8. pisano - May 2, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    He had a good reason to do blow, if he didn’t that slob would have weighed 400 lbs.

  9. jwbiii - May 2, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Amy K. Nelson has a fantastic feature

    Kinda redundant.

    • jwbiii - May 2, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      Thumbs downer, if you’ve read an Amy K. Nelson piece that wasn’t outstanding, you’ve read one more than me. Please link.

  10. The Baseball Idiot - May 2, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Just to clarify, it wasn’t just for selling crack. He had a loaded weapon with him. He got hit with federal sentencing guidlines, and had to do a minimum of 14 years.

    Using drugs is bad.
    Selling drugs is bad.
    Selling drugs while carrying is bad.
    Getting caught selling drugs while carrying?

    The word escapes me, but I’m sure it isn’t good.

  11. Ben - May 2, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Phew, thank god he wasn’t using marijuana.

  12. 4letterman - May 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    His name reminds me of the quote in Major League: “He catches like Willie Mays, but hits like S*&T!”

    Great story.

    • jwbiii - May 2, 2012 at 10:32 PM

      Aikens was more like, “He hits like Willie McCovey, catches like shit, and runs like a filing cabinet!”

  13. rosesacl - May 2, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    His story is very inspirational… The trials, the tribulations, the crack…. Awesome story…

    • maxt75 - May 3, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Inspirational to crackheads…..and Craig, I suppose….

  14. maxt75 - May 3, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    CBS is reporting that KC is indeed giving Aikens a second chance. They are activating him to play first base and sending Hosmer down.

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