Aikens recalls life experiences in book

Aikens recalls life experiences in book

Aikens recalls life experiences in book
KANSAS CITY -- Willie Aikens has had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Some, such as his days playing in the Major Leagues, have boys and men of all ages envious. Others, such as the 14 years he spent in prison, no one wants to share.

Aikens explains the highs and lows of his life in his new book, "Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home," released this month.

Royals fans will remember the former big leaguer, who became the first player ever to hit two home runs in two separate games of the same World Series back in 1980.

But in the years that followed, Aikens struggled with drug use, and his big league career was over in 1985. In 1994, he was arrested and convicted for cocaine distribution. He was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

Aikens was released after 14 years, when federal drug guidelines changed, and in the years since, he's turned his life around. He's made numerous public appearances, telling his story and issuing warnings to others about the dangerous lifestyle that put him behind bars. Also, in 2011, Aikens was hired by the Royals as a minor league coach.

Many people, including the minor leaguers he coaches, have heard Aikens' story. Now, with the publication of his book, Aikens hopes to educate even more people.

"I just want my book to touch the lives of people who are struggling with drugs and alcohol and to inspire some of the ones that are still incarcerated. Give them hope," Aikens said Wednesday. "I was incarcerated for 14 years, and I left behind a lot of people that are still there. It's just putting out the word that, hey, it doesn't make any difference how long you're there, it doesn't make any difference how long you struggled with drugs and alcohol, it doesn't make any difference if your dad or mom was there, you still can succeed in life."

The former first baseman certainly fits that description, and he said he's enjoying his time as a coach in the Royals organization.

"I'm having a great time," Aikens said. "To be where I'm at in my life right now is truly a blessing because, when I was incarcerated, I prayed that whenever I got out I would be able to get into baseball again. And in order for that to become a reality, after three years of being a free man, is a tremendous blessing for me."

Aikens will be attending several book signings this month in the Kansas City area. He'll be at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Overland Park, Kan., on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Later on Saturday, he'll be signing copies of his book at Kauffman Stadium from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. in the Royals Majestic Team Store. He'll also be appearing at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City on April 27 from 4 to 6 p.m.