The day after watching a church play about Heaven and Hell, Torii Hunter got married.
“We were tired of fornicating,” Torii says on an Idols Aside Ministries video.
Torii had been raised in church but took sin lightly and paid scant attention to the reality of God’s hand of discipline. When he saw the church play, he was deeply shaken and wasted no time repenting. He didn’t dawdle planning a wedding for months. He went out immediately, the very next day, and formalized his relationship with his high school sweetheart, Katrina. He was 21.
“Let’s get married and be together for the rest of our lives,” he remembers saying. It is a decision he doesn’t regret. He praises his wife for being an untiring and exemplary mother.
“She did a great job,” Torii said on MLB’s website at the time. “She had these kids getting straight A’s. She had these kids on time. She’s done all these little things that makes them young men, and I really appreciate her and I thank God for her. She lifts me up. She lifts the kids up. She’s a helper. She’s a completer.”
Torii Hunter was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His father was a Vietnam veteran who had issues with anger and drug addiction.
One day while his father slept, Torii grabbed his Chicago Bulls jacket that his father had been using. It smelled like smoke, so Torii sprayed it with cologne and took it with him to middle school, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
The panicked 8th grader grabbed it and asked to go to the bathroom. He carefully wiped off his fingerprints from the pipe and hid it behind a toilet. Mercifully, he didn’t get caught.
Due to Dad’s addictions, the family lived in so much poverty they often went without food and went for months without electricity because they were unable to pay the bill.
“I’ve seen my dad high. I saw him hallucinate. Crazy stuff. Little red men,” Torii recalls. “He has done tons of things. He stole my truck. He sold a truck. He’s done a lot of things.”
Mom, a churchgoer, was the pillar of the household. Torii loved baseball and wanted to make it to the Big Leagues. His older brother was a protector and pushed him to be competitive and to strive for greatness.
While he aimed for baseball greatness, he also got ensnared, to a certain extent, in sin.
“I got caught in the peer pressures of the world,” he admits. As he was playing in the Minors, he was fornicating with his girlfriend.
That’s when he got invited to the church play about Heaven and Hell and felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Torii, who says his mom taught him to be a man of his word, went out immediately and married Katrina. The couple have four sons and live in Prosper, Texas.
“I saw my life started to change,” Torii says. “I got rid of some people that was kind of holding me back.”
A center fielder and right fielder, Torii played for the Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Detroit Tigers from 1997 through 2015. Hunter was named a five-time All-Star, a nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
Torii clarifies that the double “I” in his name was not a reference to the Japanese Shinto shrine. “I think, when my mom filled out the paperwork after I was born, she accidentally put two ‘I’s,” he said in a David Brown interview.
After cleaning up his act, Torii began helping other men. That cause eclipsed the millions of dollars he earned in MLB, he says.
“I get more satisfaction in helping others, and giving back than taking care of me myself, that selfishness that’s in all of us,” Torii says. “I feel better when I help somebody else and not just myself.”
His trajectory in Christ has been one of learning to become a man.
“The definition of a man is responsibility, protector, provider,” Hunter says. “I’ve talked to a lot of pastors. I’ve read a lot about what a man should do. Not a man from the world. Not a man from the streets. But a godly man.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Allie Scribner studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy near Culver City, California.