In this line of business it is refreshing to work with individuals who have real convictions and stand up for what they believe. Johnny Estrada is one of these rare individuals who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

 

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Photo by Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

 

 

Johnny grew up in a rough neighborhood plagued by drug and alcohol abuse. He witnessed the devastating effects that drugs have on individuals, including friends and family, and the surrounding community. Johnny chose to focus his time and energy on baseball and living a clean life. Johnny founded his No Drugs Foundation (http://www.nodrugsbaseball.com/) to promote living a drug-free life to children across the country. Through his organization he leads many community outreach programs to educate kids about the dangers of drug abuse. Hearing a similar message at an early age helped him stay away from drugs, and he’s committed to passing that message forward.

To help Johnny promote his No Drugs message, we embroider his No Drugs Foundation logo on his chest protector, leg guards, and mitt. Here are some shots that I took in the National’s locker room with Johnny (I had to be discrete because I was wearing a pass that clearly said “No Cameras”… apologies for the slight blurriness).

 

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I find it fitting that this season Johnny is playing for the Washington Nationals. Back in the early ’80s, Washington D.C. was the birthplace of the “Straight Edge” hardcore scene. Straight edge is a genre of hardcore punk rock that promotes a lifestyle of abstaining from drugs and alcohol. D.C. bands such as The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, and S.O.A. (Henry Rollins’ first band), spawned a revolution or movement for positive values and resisting peer pressure. The beautiful irony is that what some would call harsh and destructive sounding music is in fact the foundation or rally cry for non-destructive values.

 

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(Album covers from Dischord Records www.dischord.com)

 

I grew up listening to Minor Threat, Youth of Today, and local Boston straight edge bands such as SSD (Society System Decontrol), DYS, and Slapshot. Central to the positive straight edge message is a core value that we are all just kids. There is a beautiful essence in that, and there is a loss of innocence when drugs and alcohol enter the equation.

 

 

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(Album cover from XCLAIM records www.xclaim.com/ssd/)

 

 

As SSD says, “The kids will have their say.” There is a lot of truth in this simple statement. Johnny Estrada is doing his part to empower today’s kids with the strength and confidence to resist peer pressure and make a stand for a drug-free life. Johnny is a role model for kids everywhere (he is also a role model for other professional athletes, if you catch my drift).

On my last afternoon in Florida, I swung by the Nationals just to say hi to Johnny once again. He had just got back from the opening day ceremonies for a local Little League where he made an appearance. Like I said, Johnny talks the talk and walks the walk.

 

 

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