Johnson County Community College
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Willie Mays Aikens
Willie Mays Aikens
Former Royals player to speak about making good choices
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Former Kansas City Royals player Willie Mays Aikens, who served 16 years in prison for drug offenses, will speak at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Johnson County Community College.
Aikens will talk in the Carlsen Center's Polsky Theatre about his days as a star player and his struggle with substance abuse. The event is free and open to the public. Afterward, Aikens will be signing autographs on his book Safe at Home, by Gregory Jordan, which will be available for purchase.
Aikens is a former Major League Baseball first baseman who played with the Kansas City Royals in the early 1980s. After his release from prison in 2008, he apologized to fans for the errors of his ways and began speaking to young players about the importance of making good choices. In 2011, the Royals announced that they had invited him back as a minor league hitting coach.
Aikens, 59, grew up poor in Seneca, S.C. He was a standout athlete at Seneca High School, and attended South Carolina State University on a baseball and football scholarship. When the university dropped baseball after Aikens' freshman year, his high school baseball coach helped him get on with a semi-pro summer baseball league in Baltimore.
A scout with the California Angels noticed him and the team drafted him in the first round in 1975. Aikens emerged as one of the top sluggers in California's farm system, hitting a league-leading 30 home runs and driving in 117 runs for the El Paso Diablos in 1976.
In 1979, the Angels traded Aikens to the Royals. He hit two home runs in two games of the 1980 World Series and he led the Royals in both home runs and RBIs in the 1981 season. He batted over .300 for the first time in his career in 1983. But at the end of that season, federal authorities questioned Aikens and several other Royals players in connection with a cocaine investigation. Aikens and three other players were sentenced to three months in prison and the Royals traded Aikens to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Over the years, Aikens developed a heavy cocaine habit. He was arrested in 1994 in Kansas City on charges of crack cocaine distribution, found guilty and sentenced to prison. After serving 16 years in the federal penitentiary, he was released in 2008.
Aikens' appearance was supported by the JCCC Foundation and the Nell Mitchell Lecture Series. It was arranged by the Council Addressing Substance Abuse Issues, a campuswide committee that coordinates services for those who seek help.
The college hosts weekly recovery meetings during the fall and spring semesters except for times when the college is closed. Visit http://blogs.jccc.edu/Jcccadia for the most updated information. Students also can call the counseling center at 913-469-3809 to make an appointment. The center is located on the second floor of the Student Center.