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.