Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports

Why this week means more to Mookie Betts

Rob Bradford
September 11, 2017 - 11:07 am

This could have been any other week for Mookie Betts. The heart of a pennant race. The homestretch for the regular season. But it's not just any other week for the Red Sox' outfielder.

From Sept. 10-17, the world will recoginize "World Suicide Prevention Week," a cause that is close to Betts' heart.

Just after leaving high school, one of Betts' close friends, Braxton, took his own life. The two had grown up together playing basketball and football, with their families often getting together. It wasn't the only incident Betts had come in contact involving that form of tragedy, with his family having also previously been affected by suicide.

So when former Red Sox pitcher John Trautwein came to speak to the Pawtucket Red Sox when Betts was playing in Triple-A, the message truly resonated.

It was during that visit with Trautwein -- who started the "Will to Live Foundation," honoring his son, who took his own life -- that Betts made a commitment to honoring his friend and relatives, while raising awareness to the importance of suicide prevention. A wristband with the words "Love Ya Man" (a slogan from the foundation) was placed on Betts right wrist and has been there ever since.

"It's one of those things where you just never know what's going in people's life," Betts told WEEI.com. "You obviously you don't want anybody to take their own life. You want people to support and love one another. That's why you try and stop the hatred and should go and back forth with people, understanding that we're all part of this thing called life. 

"You just don't want anybody to do such a thing, especially when there's so much promise in life."

So when the subject is brought up, as it will continue to be throughout this week, Betts will continue to do his part to advance the conversation.

"It hits home. It's kind of personal to me, so I don't want anybody to do such a thing," he said. "You never really know what's going on in people's life. That's why I try to bring a smile to everybody I come in contact with."

I'm Listening

I'm Listening was a live broadcast on Sunday, September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day.

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