February 14, 2019

Three Animals That Impacted My Life- Part 2 – A Bear and a Deer

By Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter

Ex-MLB ALL-Star, Entpreneur

former MLB center fielder and right fielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Detroit Tigers from 1997 through 2015. Hunter was a five-time All-Star, won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards as a center fielder and was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Torii is very active in philanthropy, including the "Torii Hunter Project Education Initiative", which provides college scholarships to students in California, Arkansas, Nevada and Minnesota, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a partnership with Major League Baseball to help maintain and improve baseball diamonds in inner cities, the Big Brothers and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, This work has resulted in Hunter being presented with the Branch Rickey Award in 2009, which rewards excellence in charity work. Torii has 3 adult sons and currently resides in Prosper, TX with his wife Katrina.

A Bear and a Deer

At 12 or 13 years old, I was in the throes of playing baseball and loving it. I was even lucky enough to travel to New Mexico for a baseball tournament, which was something different for a Pine Bluff kid. We were lucky to get 30 miles away from home, let alone fly to another state. This trip was my first time on a plane.

I stayed in New Mexico for two weeks with a host family. Their life was very different from mine. I couldn’t believe that people lived as I saw on TV. They actually got up every morning and ate breakfast. Together. That blew me away.

Not only that, but the man of the house had his own plane that he flew.

Shortly after I first got there, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride on the plane and see areas of New Mexico that weren’t easy to get to by car. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

As we were flying, he pointed out the beautiful landscape, vast mountains, and amazing wildlife. On that ride, I saw a bear and a deer. Two animals that I have never seen but on tv shows.  My eyes were open like never before.

“There’s more to this world,” I thought. “I need to be a part of that!”

After the trip, I knew I needed to do something different with my life before I had a wife and kids. I wanted to be a different person and have a different future than the kids in gangs I am growing up with.

I told myself that I was going to use baseball to get my degree, a scholarship, so my mom didn’t have to pay for it. Of course, there were obstacles, and I fell into some of those traps. Where I was at, there were no jobs. I was too young to work, and I had to help my mother out. Yes, I made some poor decisions in my life, but so has everyone. For me, when I did those things, I felt bad, and I was scared every time. I didn’t know whether or not I would get caught by the police or my mom. It wasn’t something I was accustomed to. I didn’t enjoy it. I did it for survival.

Once I got to high school though, I shut it down. I saw my future. I started getting scouts to watch me play. They told me, “We like you, we want you.” I knew I needed to stay focused.

People used to tell me, “You aren’t going to make it to the major leagues. You are from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It’s impossible.”

When I heard that, I walked away from those people because they can’t see the dream. But I fought for it. A dream is just a dream until you take a step forward. I like dream chasers, not dreamers. It’s not free. Nothing was going to be handed to me. So, I became a dream chaser.

What I learned:

Like Jesus says in Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

In the projects, the road that leads to destruction is extremely wide for a young man. The temptation to do wrong just to survive is everywhere. The odds were against me, but I refused to go down the path of destruction when I saw there was a future. We all have obstacles that block our path, but if you put your mind to it, there is always a way to overcome. Be a dream chaser, rather than a dreamer, and amazing things can happen for you.


Click here to read Part 1

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