Drew Robinson and Ending the Stigma

Drew Robinson, born on April 20, 1992, is a professional baseball player currently in the San Francisco Giants organization. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers, and also played briefly with the St. Louis Cardinals before making the move to the San Francisco Giants organization where he is a member of the Sacramento River Cats. However, after this weekend’s series, Robinson is hanging up his cleats to help win a much bigger battle.

In April 2020, Robinson had left a letter to the ones he loved the most and went to the bathroom. This is where the 27-year-old grabbed his handgun and proceeded to try to take his own life. However, he woke up and was faced with a decision; do I pull the trigger again, or do I take a shower? Drew took a shower, brushed his teeth, and then went to bed. When he woke up again, after almost 20 hours of having a bullet wound to the head, he decided to pick up the phone and dial 911.

After the disbelief and shock of surviving that long had surpassed the nurses and doctors, they were able to save his life. He had lost his right eye in the attempt, but the important thing was that he was alive. He didn’t know what the future had in store for him, but he knew he wanted baseball to be a part of it. He also understood the fact that his story is much bigger now, and he had a reason as to why he was still here. He wanted to share his story in hopes of helping others.

After a year of rehab, in May of 2021 Robinson made the opening day roster for the Sacramento River Cats, which is the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Robinson hit his first home run back to professional baseball on May 11. However, Drew admits to struggling at the plate after slashing 128/.240/.267 in 35 games with the River Cats. He admits that for the majority of his life, he only had to “put in the work physically” but that this past season he began “prioritizing putting in the work mentally and emotionally.” He knows the journey isn’t linear and so the Giants front office and Drew himself began discussing bigger roles he can play, just off the field.

It is no question that mental health has a harrowing stigma in the United States, but that only worsens when you’re a professional athlete, and you’re a male. The CDC reports that 11% of American adults surveyed in June considered suicide and that the highest percentage of those who considered suicide were among 18- to 24-year-olds, at 26%.

The Giants offered Drew the opportunity to take on the role as a mental-health advocate within their organization. Drew says that “for the Giants to believe I can help other players address their emotional well-being more comfortably and gain insight from my lessons learned is truly humbling.”

The correlation (or lack thereof) between the words mental health and sports have an enormous amount of work to be put into them co-existing, but Drew’s willingness to be raw and open, and his ability to encourage other players to speak out, will change the game of baseball for the better, that is for certain.

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