NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Former MLB star Darryl Strawberry is defending his decision to publicly speak about former teammate Dwight 'Doc' Gooden's alleged cocaine addiction.
"We love Dwight. This has been a long journey and long history. When one is struggling, someone has to speak out. Celebrity lives-- no one wants to speak out. That's why Prince is dead. That's why Whitney Houston is dead. I needed to speak out," said Strawberry.
Dwight Gooden Jr., the son of the former New York Mets pitching sensation, issued a statement late Sunday saying he, his family and Strawberry were desperately trying to save Gooden from cocaine addiction. But Gooden, 51, fired back Monday night.
"I had never failed to be there for Darryl Strawberry. I don't do cocaine and have not for years," said Gooden.
Strawberry insisted during a phone interview from Tallahasee, Florida, with Good Day New York on Tuesday that Gooden was lying.
"I am a man of faith. He needs help. That's the bottom line. People don't want to come to that conclusion and they want to rationalize it and say other things. That's on them. That's not going to be on me. I'm speaking the truth," insisted Strawberry.
A photo in the NY Daily News shows a frail and gaunt Gooden outside his apartment in Jersey City on Monday.
"He is younger than me. He is 51 years old. Look at him. I see it every day. Look at the cheeks. He looks half-way dead. The picture on the Daily News speaks for itself," said Strawberry.
According to published reports, Gooden, has refused treatment and routinely locks himself inside his bedroom, avoiding events where he is expected to make an appearance.
"I am not here to make a big thing out of this. I am here to say 'I want to save your life.' The other teammates, they don't want to save your life. I have reached out to him privately. I know lots of treatment centers that would take him, but he wants to manipulate everybody," said Strawberry.
“His problems have been well documented and publicized through the years. At this time our only concern is his health and that he takes care of himself," wrote Gooden Jr. in a statement Sunday about his father. "There has not been a single day that our love for him or his love for us has ever wavered. One thing that has always been constant has been our Father's determination to provide for us regardless of what was going on in his life. He has always provided for us and has always been there for us."
"He is a cocaine addict just like I was. That was me, 13 years ago, I was that person. But somebody helped me. My wife helped. He needs people. You are about to lose the battle of your life," said Strawberry.
The rest of the statement by Gooden issued Monday reads:
"I had always been supportive of Darryl, during his best and worst days. I recall the times he was in prison, and I was there for him. I recall the times he struggled with his own addiction, and I was there for him then, too.
"Last Thursday night, I was unable to attend an event at WFAN with Darryl. There were plenty of times when Darryl was unable to attend events as well. No one, most of all me, made any big deal out of Darryl's absence, nor should they have had.
"But Darryl has always made our differences personal, going back to our days with the Mets.
"I had hoped we could keep these differences between us. But Darryl could not manage to do that. I am sorry for his inability to show more character and strength. While I was there for him, he obviously was never there for me.''
"I wish him well. I pray for him and his family," said Strawberry.