LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — On Thursday, the Las Vegas Ballpark is hosting live batting practice featuring current major and minor league players, including Chicago Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant, and Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Amir Garrett.
Another player who's scheduled to participate is San Francisco Giants outfielder, Drew Robinson. The Las Vegas product recently made national headlines, thanks to an ESPN article in which he revealed that, within the last year, he survived a suicide attempt and is attempting a comeback to Major League Baseball.
Robinson recently sat down with 13 Action News to talk about his mental health struggles and the progress of his comeback.
"Looking back, I realize I just enjoyed making people laugh and giving people a good moment in the day," said Robinson, reflecting on the emotional roller coaster he's been on for much of his adult life.
It's tough to tell just by looking at Drew Robinson, but for most of his 28 years of life, he has struggled with mental health. It's something he's mostly kept bottled up.
"I was either on top of the world or on the bottom and I didn’t understand why. And I remember always trying to figure it out and that created a lot of frustration for myself," said Robinson.
On the surface, he's a rare sports success story. Robinson was drafted by the Texas Rangers straight out of Silverado High School before becoming a full-time ballplayer, bouncing between the minor and major league levels.
But behind the scenes, Robinson was depressed. He struggled to manage his mental health, at times even contemplating suicide.
"It was definitely slow-building, but I would say the last month leading up to it, it happened very quickly. It kind of popped up in my head a little bit more than just a passive thought and it really kind of paralyzed me. It controlled me, whereas I was thinking about it a lot of times throughout the day and realizing that this was becoming a real possibility," said Robinson about his suicidal thoughts.
On April 16, 2020, Robinson decided he no longer wanted to live.
"It wasn’t one specific thing that caused it. It was a compilation of a lot of unhealthy thought habits throughout my life. It was a perfect storm of some things that I wasn’t able to handle leading up to that, including baseball, calling off a wedding to an amazing girl, the pandemic shutting things down, and being quarantined. It really wasn’t an emotional decision. I really kind of decided it in a very business-like mindset. And it’s kind of weird to even say that and to think that, but that’s really how it was," said Robinson.
He pulled out a pistol, put it to his temple, and pulled the trigger. For 20 hours, he bled, drifted in and out of consciousness, and even performed mundane tasks like showering and brushing his teeth. But, somehow he survived. Then, he had a realization. Robinson picked up the phone and called for help.
"Something just hit me. I just, I wanted my life back," said Robinson.
One of the first conversations he can remember after waking up was with his beloved big brother, Chad.
"I just kept on repeating, 'I'm meant to be alive, Chad. I'm meant to be alive. I’m meant to be alive.' And I just kept on getting more stern and stronger and louder. I remember thinking it didn’t matter what was happening at that moment. I just knew that I’m going to make it and I wanted to tell people and myself that I’m ok," said Robinson.
Make no mistake, Robinson regrets his decision to try and take his own life. It cost him one of his eyes, but it's helped him realize it's OK to not be OK.
"Everyone wants to get better and feel better and get out of the darkness. I just want people to know it’s OK to talk about it and to reach out for help and to feel safe when they do so. If not a lot of people are able to do something, that’s considered a skill set and a strength. So why isn’t it considered a strength to talk about your feelings if it’s something that not a lot of people are able to do?" asked Robinson aloud.
Less than a year later, he's made a miraculous recovery. He's back to playing baseball and chasing his big league dreams with a new outlook on life.
"I feel so good physically and I’m at an even better place mentally now. And I might’ve lost and eye, but not playing with this huge weight of negativity on my back every day has allowed me to play and practice the most freely I’ve ever felt in my life," said Robinson. "I want to ride this momentum to try to spread my message even more. And it’s not even my message. This is way bigger than me. This is mental health. This is everybody. This is the world. This is life," said Robinson.
Drew Robinson is very serious about his baseball comeback. He's training hard every day in Las Vegas and recently signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants. He'll have to start again from the bottom and work his way up, but believes anything is possible with his new approach to mental health and strong support system of friends and family around him.