Summit Christian Academy recently welcomed retired Major League Baseball first baseman Willie Aikens to speak to a sixth-grade class.
Willie Mays Aikens, one of baseball’s top hitters, played for the Kansas City Royals from 1979 to 1983. Aikens’ performance in the 1980 World Series with the Royals made him the first player in World Series history to hit two home runs in the same game twice during the World Series. However, the legend’s struggle with drugs and alcohol led to jail time, and in 1984, the Royals traded Aikens to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he played until 1985.
SCA sixth-grade student Clayton Leighty asked Aikens, a long-time family friend, to share with the class.
For Aikens, sharing with students about his experiences as a major league baseball player included much of his experiences off the field. “Poor choices” and drug abuse led to heartaches and a 20-year prison sentence for Aikens.
“I made some bad decisions in my life,” said Aikens. “You have to know that every decision leads to consequences. Now is the time to decide to make good choices,” said Aikens.
“It’s hard to hear about his life before,” said Betsy Keilers, mother of Leighty and Aikens’ friend. “I just know the man he is now, and he’s a good man and a good husband and father.” Keilers and Aikens met at a Kansas City Royals event for former Royals players in 2009.
Aikens shared with the class that while serving his 20-year sentence, he changed his life.
“While in prison, I read my Bible and recommitted my life to Jesus Christ. I hung around men who were doing the right things,” said Aikens. “I’ve been clean for more than 20 years. That’s longer than you (students) have been alive. It’s never too early to decide to do what’s right,” Aikens said.