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J.R. Richard, former Major League Baseball All-Star Pitcher, Motivational Speaker, and Advocate for the Homeless -- will be the keynote speaker for Safe Harbour's Night Without A Tux Gala on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Carlisle Country Club, beginning at 6 p.m
February 20, 2016 – Night Without A Tux Gala REGISTER

A flame-throwing star with the Houston Astros, J. R. Richard was at the top of his profession when he inexplicably began complaining of arm weakness in 1980. Initially scoffed at because he continued approaching 100 mph on the radar gun, everything changed when Richard collapsed while playing catch with a teammate-later diagnosed as a life-threatening stroke. The shocking development ended Richard's major league career and set off a chain of events that led to the former All-Star being homeless by the mid-1990s. Richard losthundreds of thousands of dollars in bad business investments, was divorced twice, lost his home, and in the winter of 1994, was found living under a Houston freeway underpass.

 

Then, J.R. Richard met Reverend Floyd Lewis of the New Testament Church of South Houston.  With Lewis's help, guidance, and understanding, as well as a deeply rooted faith in God, Richard overcame homelessness and despair. In time, Richard himself became a minister in the church. He and Lewis now spend countless hours helping the homeless and mentoring the area's youth that need a guiding hand.  Richard is also involved in raising funds to help establishyouth baseball leagues around the city of Houston. He firmly believes if kidsare playing baseball, they won't be joining gangs.

 

After all Richard has been through, he does not dwell on thebad things that have befallen him. "That's hindsight, and that doesn't do any good to sit here and dwell on what could (have) been," Richard says. "It's part of my past, and I'm trying to go further in life. I try to leave that alone and look at what's in front of me." This philosophy isthe foundation of his message when he serves as a motivational speaker around the country.

 

Richard's rapid rise and sudden, tragic fall define the unusual, moving, and inspirational life of a Houston icon who has endured many hardships but has become an admired figure in his adopted hometown. J. R.Richard tells that story in his recently published book "Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance."  In the book and in his own words, Richard writes about the highs and the lows of his brilliant athletic career, the difficulties that befell him on and off the field, abandonment by those he counted on after his stroke, the despair of losing everything, and his ultimate redemption and giving back to the community.

 

Richard will speak about his life, his challenges, his redemption, and the important role of shelters and organizations such as Safe Harbour in providing a foundation for homeless individuals and families to succeed.