Parents say 'no doubt' steroids killed son

Updated: March 17, 2005, 11:30 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Her voice wavered, the emotion coming through loud and clear, as Denise Garibaldi spoke of her son who committed suicide after using steroids.

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  • "There is no doubt in our minds that steroids killed our son," Garibaldi told a House committee during Thursday's hearing on steroids in baseball.

    An hour or so later, Garibaldi and her husband were seated in the gallery directly behind Mark McGwire, one of Rob Garibaldi's baseball heroes. The young Garibaldi would tape McGwire on television and break down McGwire's swing "frame by frame," said father Raymond Garibaldi.

    The Garibaldis watched and listened as McGwire pointedly refused to discuss his baseball past -- including whether he ever used steroids -- with members of the Committee on Government Reform.

    Rob Garibaldi shot himself in the head on Oct. 1, 2002, at the age of 24. For years, he had been told that he had all the ingredients of a major league baseball player except size, so he started using steroids to gain the bulk he needed to make the big time. The price, in Raymond Garibaldi's words, was "mania, depression, short-term memory loss, uncontrollable rage, delusional and suicidal thinking and paranoid psychosis."

    "In his mind, he did what baseball players like (Jose) Canseco has done, and McGwire and (Barry) Bonds are believed to have done," Denise Garibaldi said. "Rob fiercely argued: 'I don't do drugs. I'm a ballplayer. This is what ballplayers do. If Bonds has to do it, then I must.' "

    The testimony of the Garibaldis and of Donald Hooton, whose son also committed suicide after using steroids, clearly touched many in attendance.

    "It was very shocking," Sosa said. "And it breaks my heart. I want to send my sympathies to the families. I want to do the best that I can do stop it."

    The Garibaldis have joined the Taylor Hooton Foundation, formed by Donald Hooton to promote awareness of the steroid problem among young people. They have been speaking publicly about their son for a year.

    "Every time you do it, it still brings back a lot of memories," Raymond Garibaldi said. "I think it's very therapeutic to be able to deal with it. And our goals are that this never happens to another family."

    Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press