Jim Leyritz Talks about Lowest Point of His Life
For the first time, former New York Yankees slugger Jim Leyritz is talking about the fall from grace that led to the lowest point in his life.
"Not knowing what's going to happen. The feeling of helplessness is just overwhelming," he says.
One minute he was an all-American hero, the next, an accused felon.
Leyritz had been the pride of New York after hitting a game-changing home run during the 1996 World Series. Thousands greeted him as a hero during a victory parade in New York City.
Then, in 2007, he was driving home from his birthday party in Fort Lauderdale at 2:30 a.m. and crashed into another vehicle. The accident left a 30-year-old mother dead.
"I say a prayer for her every day. I say a prayer for her children, her two kids that were left without a mother," Leyritz says.
His body shook as he sobbed in court. He was charged with DUI manslaughter and was facing 15 years in prison. To add to his disgrace, his ex-wife, Karrie, charged him with battery for allegedly striking her across the face.
The battery charge was later dropped and it took a jury just 45 minutes to find him not guilty of the manslaughter charge, though they did convict him of DUI. He's just written a book about his ordeal, Catching Heat.
"Being a catcher, you're in control. I was always calling the pitches and things like that and sitting in front of a jury and waiting for a verdict is the most helpless feeling that you could ever have," says Leyritz.
The former baseball hero says the accident still haunts him and always will.
"A woman lost her life that night. It's something that stays with you the rest of your life," he says.