Parents say 'no doubt' steroids killed son


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

"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."