By Heather Janssen

CONTENT WARNING: This article contains information regarding death and suicide. If you are struggling with depression or have thoughts of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – One River Cats player has a powerful story to share. He says he’s lucky to be alive to tell it after a failed suicide attempt last year.

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On the baseball field, Drew Robinson knows the ins and outs of the game. His life mission for years has been to play professionally. For some time, he did. Once on the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants.

When he’s playing, he feels comfortable.

“This is where I’m supposed to be, and where I belong,” Robinson said.

To anyone outside the fence, Robinson looks like he has it made. A young baseball player living out his dream, but he says – that’s not the case.

“I was the perfect example, the living proof of the stigma,” Robinson said. “Looking like everything is great from the outside but inside, really struggling.”

Each day, his hardest opponent is himself.

“The more you resist, the heavier it gets,” Robinson said.

So heavy, he said, he felt he couldn’t endure anymore. His darkest day came in April 2020, when he tried to take his own life. He shot himself in the head and laid for hours before calling 9-1-1.

More than a year later, he’s thankful he failed. But he still lost his eye as a result and was unsure if he’d ever play baseball again. With plenty of practice as he overcame obstacles, it became clear – he’s meant to. Playing with one eye, he said, wasn’t as hard as he’d thought. He says he can mostly see as he normally would.

“The day I just let go was the day I really felt free playing,” Robinson said. “Understanding that I’m seeing the ball really well, and seeing the shape as good as I can – that’s going to lead to an adjustment.”

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Robinson was re-signed by the Giants in the winter and put on the roster earlier this month for the Sacramento River Cats. He said he’s thankful for the support system, and how the Giants treated him during the tough times.

“They were offering support before I got the contract, offering me support as a human being,” Robinson said. “When I got that news, I just wanted to jump through the phone and give everyone in the Giants organization a hug.”

The moment came full circle, and truly hit home, when he knocked the ball out of the park at opening night in Las Vegas – his hometown. It was the first time he’d done that since his suicide attempt. He felt a wave of emotion, immediately.

“Shedding tears running around bases is something I would normally try to hide, but it’s something I’m proud to say,” Robinson said. “For the first time in my career, I was able to soak it in. Let the good emotions out.”

He was able to do so in front of his family and close friends.

“Sharing that moment with them couldn’t get more storybook,” Robinson said.

A success story, he knows, sounds unreal. But he hopes it’s a reminder to not identify most with our darkest days.

“It’s okay not to be okay at times,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person.”

Robinson is now a champion for mental health. By surviving his struggle, he’s found his new life mission.

“This is definitely my calling,” Robinson said. “But I think I’ll be able to focus on baseball at the same time.”

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Robinson’s message to anyone struggling is not to be afraid to talk to someone about what they’re going through. He said opening up to others, including his therapist, has been a gamechanger.

Heather Janssen