It was one year ago on July 1, 2019, that Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of a drug overdose at age 27 — a tragedy with ripple effects still being felt today.
But his memory and legacy live on through the Tyler Skaggs Foundation. The organization was started this year “to empower young people through the gift of sports by supporting athletic programs and other initiatives that provide the tools to build confidence, teamwork and leadership skills.”
The foundation’s programs so far include a batting cage at North Venice Little League, where Skaggs played as a kid; sponsorship of a travel team made up of players from that Little League; sponsoring student athletes on a mission trip to Kenya; and providing meals during the coronavirus pandemic for children in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Skaggs’ widow, Carli, and his mother, Debbie, are on the board of directors of the Tyler Skaggs Foundation, and spoke this week about his legacy.
“He’s not going to be remembered as a baseball player, just as a caring, loving, kind person,” Debbie said. “I don’t know about other players. Sometimes they get in their own little zone and don’t reach out with other people. Tyler took the time to connect with fans and kids.”
What is not awkward is the devotion of his former teammates. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons recently sent Carli a text letting her know how much Skaggs was still inspiring him to be a better person.
“The biggest thing was how loving he was towards the people around him and how he expressed that love in a cool way, which guys are too afraid to do,” wrote Simmons. “I’ve been trying to implement those things in my life and share love or speaking up whenever I feel it’s right without fear of what people might think.”
“Tyler always told the kids he worked with that anything is possible with hard work and dedication,” the Tyler Skaggs Foundation says. “We are keeping Tyler’s legacy alive by sharing that message with young people throughout our community.”