Ken Caminiti was "depressed" and "edgy," and wanted to talk about "life, love and everything," during the last half day of his life, spent in large part in the company of a 35-year-old ex-con from Brooklyn, according to a suburban New York newspaper.
Rob Silva, 35, who said he met Caminiti at a party in Brooklyn about a year and a half ago, told Newsday, in a story published Tuesday, that Caminiti called him Friday to talk. During their conversation, Silva mentioned to the former National League MVP that his son was having problems with drugs.
Caminiti spoke to the son, Silva told Newsday. "He asked my son, 'Do you want to live, or do you want to die?' My son stood quiet for a second then said, 'I want to live.' And Ken said, 'All right, then.'"
Silva said Caminiti promised to help the youth get into a military school in Texas. "I was happy. I thought he was going to give my son a chance to make it. My son really wants to get out of here."
Caminiti called again about 4 a.m. Sunday, according to Silva, said he was in the neighborhood and wanted to meet.
They walked around for a while, according to Silva, before Caminiti hailed a cab and told the cabbie to "Just drive." They rode around Brooklyn for a time, then walked around the Hunts Point section of the Bronx before ending up about 8 a.m. at the apartment of a friend of Silva's, Angel Gonzalez, where Caminiti later was stricken.
While they were riding in the cab, Silva told Newsday, Caminiti "was talking a lot. He was sweating a lot," but Silva said that he didn't see Caminiti take any drugs and that the only thing he saw Caminiti drink was a protein shake.
"A heart attack at 41, as healthy as he is? I know he had a problem with cocaine. I know that's one of the demons he has been fighting," Silva said.
Silva told Newsday that Caminiti talked about how much his three young daughters meant to him, how much he loved his father, how drugs and alcohol had destroyed his life and how he had disappointed so many people.
At Gonzalez's apartment, the men decided to watch the Jets game during the afternoon. While they waited for the game to start, Caminiti went into the bathroom, reappearing after about five minutes, his face covered either in water or sweat, rubbing his chest, Silva told Newsday.
Caminiti said, "I don't feel so good," took a few steps and collapsed, according to Silva.
Gonzalez, who had just returned from picking up fried chicken and beer, helped drag Caminiti onto a bed, then called 911 while Silva tried to administer CPR. When emergency medical technicians arrived, Caminiti was taken to Lincoln Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.