A year since Tyler Skaggs’ death, family’s pain remains fresh

first_img Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter While Skaggs’ death led to increased drug testing and awareness of the dangers of opioids, Carli and Debbie are focused on the Foundation as a means to turn his memory into a positive for others.So far they have distributed 350 grab-and-go meals to Santa Monica children who missed out on lunches when schools closed because of the pandemic. They refurbished the batting cages at the North Venice Little League, where Skaggs played as a boy.A few other projects stalled because of the coronavirus, including a high school baseball game at UCLA and a trip for two high school athletes to work with children in Kenya. They are planning a Christmas toy drive for kids in hospitals in Santa Monica and UCLA.The Foundation has already received support from many of the same big leaguers who who etched “45” onto their caps or shoes last summer to honor a player they called a friend. Several of them — a group including Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers — recently posed for photos with Carli wearing Tyler Skaggs Foundation T-shirts.Fans can buy the apparel on the Foundation web site, with proceeds going to support the causes that meant so much to Skaggs, Carli and Debbie.“We just want to honor the way Tyler lived,” Carli said. “He always talked about wanting to start a foundation. He didn’t know exactly what direction he wanted to go in, but I know this is what he would want. I just want to make him proud.” PreviousCarli Skaggs, left, wife of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and his mother Debbie Skaggs are shown with his baseball glove and his urn, right, in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)A photo of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and his urn are placed on Kobe Bryant’s book, “The Mamba Mentality” in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Carli Skaggs, left, wife of Tyler Skaggs and his mother Debbie Skaggs are shown with photos of the Angels pitcher Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsDebbie Skaggs, mother of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020, wears at necklace in memory of her son. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Carli Skaggs, wife of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020 still wears his wedding ring on a chain around her neck. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Carli Skaggs, left, wife of Tyler Skaggs and his mother Debbie Skaggs are shown with the jersey and photos of the Angels pitcher in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Carli Skaggs, left, wife of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and his mother Debbie Skaggs are shown with his baseball glove and his urn, right, in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)A photo of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and his urn are placed on Kobe Bryant’s book, “The Mamba Mentality” in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)NextShow Caption1 of 6A photo of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs and his urn are placed on Kobe Bryant’s book, “The Mamba Mentality” in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas just prior to a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)ExpandThe calendar has been creeping up on Carli and Debbie Skaggs for a while now, each day bringing them a little closer to the date that changed their lives forever.“It’s been a year, but the pain is just as fresh today as it was a year ago,” Carli said, her voice cracking as she recalls the day she lost her husband. “It’s been a really tough month, leading up to the anniversary. I am really emotional. There’s really no way to describe the pain that I feel.”Wednesday will mark exactly one year since Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in suburban Dallas, devastating the Angels and sending shock waves throughout Major League Baseball.Mostly, though, the tragedy left his wife, Carli, and his mother, Debbie, to grapple with an unimaginable loss. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros “Every day is a battle,” Debbie said. “We’re not as numb, but we’re still in pain.”Carli and Debbie had not spoken publicly about their loss for nearly a year, but approaching the anniversary of his death they sat together in Debbie’s living room for an interview.They were surrounded by framed jerseys and photos. A black urn, shaped like a flame, sat on a table across the room. Carli has an identical one, allowing for Skaggs’ ashes to remain with each of the two most important women in his life.Carli and Debbie opened up because they wanted to share the work of the Tyler Skaggs Foundation, which is primarily aimed at helping kids.“We want to honor the way Tyler lived,” Carli said, “and it’s important to me to share with you who he was as a person, and what we’re doing to carry his amazing legacy forward.” Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield center_img On Wednesday, they plan to surround themselves with friends and family for a celebration of Skaggs’ life, including scattering some of his ashes on the beach. It will be the latest in what has been a year of emotional tributes, none more public and more stirring than what happened last July 12, when the Angels played their first home game after Skaggs’ death.There was Debbie’s first pitch — a perfect strike from the top of the mound. There was a 45-second moment of silence. There was a video tribute to Skaggs.The Angels then took the field — all wearing Skaggs’ No. 45 — and Taylor Cole and Felix Peña proceeded to pitch a combined no-hitter.“You could feel his presence there,” Carli said. “It was like he was over the whole stadium.”Afterward, the players draped their jerseys on the mound.“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Debbie said. “It was definitely meant to be. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Is this really happening?’ What a tribute to an amazing young man.”Aside from those big moments, there are hundreds of small ones, like the messages Carli receives from total strangers. Even nearly a year after Skaggs’ death, she still regularly hears from people about the impact he had on their lives.“I get messages like this all the time,” Carli said after scrolling through her phone to find the latest example. “It puts a smile on my face.”Debbie said she is heartened whenever she hears stories from the people who interacted with her son.“He’s not going to be remembered as a baseball player, just as a caring, loving, kind person,” Debbie said. “I don’t know about other players. Sometimes they get in their own little zone and don’t reach out with other people. Tyler took the time to connect with fans and kids.”The pleasant memories of Skaggs will help Carli and Debbie get through Wednesday, which they were certain would also include replaying many of the details of the worst day of their lives.Debbie said she talked or texted with her son just about every day, and they’d had a normal conversation on Sunday, June 30, 2019. She asked how he was feeling, and he said everything was fine. She said she would talk to him on Monday, after the Angels were to arrive in Texas for a series against the Rangers.Carli said she knew something was wrong based on his final text that Sunday night. Normally, the conversations ended with “I love you” or “good night,” but not this time.“The last text he left off that night was not something he’d ever leave off with,” said Carli, who had been with Skaggs for six years and married for six months.When she woke up Monday morning and didn’t have Skaggs’ customary “good morning” text, she worried more.“His phone was off,” Carli said. “I knew if he had forgotten his charger or his phone was broken, he would 100 percent find a way to get in touch with me, whether it was using someone else’s phone or the hotel phone.”A few hours later, after Debbie had also failed in numerous attempts to reach her son, Carli learned the devastating news in a phone call from General Manager Billy Eppler.“I’ll never forget that,” Carli said. “It’s something I replay in my mind all the time. I don’t even know how to describe it. … Am I really never going to see my best friend, my soul mate, my other half, ever again?”When Debbie heard, she couldn’t even continue holding the phone, so she passed it to her husband, Dan: “I was in shock. Total shock. There’s no way. They’re wrong. It couldn’t have happened. It was the most painful day I’ve had in my entire life.”Weeks would pass before they learned the details.The coroner determined that Skaggs had essentially suffocated on his own vomit, with opioids — oxycodone and fentanyl — in his system. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.Two weeks shy of his 28th birthday, Skaggs had become the latest victim of the nation’s growing opioid crisis. His wife and mother insist they never saw any signs of a problem.“That wasn’t even something that crossed my mind,” Carli said.“He never showed anything of that being a possibility,” Debbie said.The family also came to believe that someone with the Angels had contributed to Skaggs’ drug use, according to a statement they released following the autopsy findings. Weeks later ESPN reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration had been investigating Eric Kay, a longtime club media relations employee. Kay reportedly had been supplying Skaggs and using drugs with him.Kay is no longer employed by the Angels. The club also denied that any other employees were aware of Skaggs’ drug use. None of Skaggs’ teammates have said they were aware he was using drugs.The Skaggs family hired noted Texas attorney Rusty Hardin, who said on Sunday night that they still are waiting for the DEA to conclude its investigation before considering a civil action against the Angels. Because of proportional liability laws in California, the Angels could owe damages even if proven to be only slightly negligent in their handling of Skaggs.“We have said all along that we will wait till the federal investigation is concluded before we make up our mind (on civil action),” Hardin said. “We’re waiting to see what they do and trying to stay out of their way.”Hardin said the statute of limitations on a wrongful death is two years, so the family has another year to make a decision.“We were hoping a year later we’d have some answers,” said Debbie, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has likely delayed the investigation. “It looks like maybe by the end of the year. I don’t know.”Carli added: “Without closure, it’s hard to move forward.”The nature of Skaggs’ death, however, has already led to a significant change in Major League Baseball’s drug policy. Starting this year, players are tested for opioids, in addition to performance enhancing drugs. Players who test positive for opioids are entered into a treatment program, with discipline coming only if they fail to follow the treatment.Carli said she was in a restaurant when she got a call letting her know about the change.“I broke down and started crying,” she said. “OK, he didn’t die in vain. His death effected a positive change. If it’s going to save someone’s life, then that’s the best thing that could have happened.”Carli said she’s also received messages from people telling her that they sought help for drug problems because of what happened to Skaggs.Related Articles Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

‘One Love’ football fest to celebrate Bob Marley

first_imgInternational Reggae legend Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley would have celebrated his 71st birthday on February 6. His boyhood friend, Clive ‘Busy’ Campbell, organiser of the Bob Marley One Love Fun Day and football matches, is inviting ‘friends in football’ to enjoy a celebration of one of the world’s most universally revered personalities this Ash Wednesday. The media launch was held yesterday at the Cuddy’z Sports Bar and Grill in New Kingston. The event will be staged at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in Arnett Gardens next Wednesday, February 10, beginning at 4 p.m. Admission is $200 for adults 18 and over, while children under 12 will be able to enter free. Those over the age of 12 will pay $100. Campbell, a former local footballer at Santos and a close friend of Marley, started the memorial event two years after Marley’s passing. He recalled yesterday that Marley’s life was a short, but well-lived one. “This is the 35th year that we are celebrating the life of Bob Marley. We are pleased to be associated with such a legend, a friend, a prophet and brother, who loved people and tried to always help others,” Campbell pointed out. Queen’s Council Ian Wilkinson, the Master of Ceremony at yesterday’s launch, recalled his fondest memories of seeing Marley as a boy. “In life he was huge; in death he is even bigger,” reasoned Wilkinson. Sponsors Tuff Gong, through the Bob Marley Foundation, delivered their message via manager Alicia Williams, while Tari Lovell, sponsorship manager of Digicel, also gave sponsorship remarks. This year’s Bob Marley One Love football matches will see Entertainers’ Invitational, Masters and Celebrities, Referees, and Tuff Gong Invitational teams vie for trophies. There will be two Bob Marley One Love trophies, plus prizes and surprises from sponsors Digicel and the Bob Marley One Love Foundation, among others. Proceeds from last year’s event were used to purchase computers for two basic schools in the inner city, with the organisers hoping to do the same this year. Among persons named to play so far are Reggae Girl Rhodes Scholar Sherona Forrester and teammate Tashana Vincent, plus former Reggae Boyz Ricardo ‘Bibi’ Gardner, Cornel Chin-Sue, Kevin ‘Pele’ Wilson, Hector Wright, and Durrent Brown. Referees Valdin Ledgister and Keeble Williams will officiate, while Charlie B from France, Nomadz, Aidonia, and Assassin will provide entertainment. 35TH YEARlast_img read more