Mark Grace is serving time at Tent City. Specifically, every day from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. But after his arrest on aggravated DUI charges, you know what else Grace is doing with his time? Something worthwhile.
“I’m 48 years old. I’m too old for this. My family deserves better,” Grace said from a picnic table within the razor wire at Tent City.
As a high-profile former major leaguer with the ability to instantly generate media coverage, Grace has decided to appoint a poster boy/spokesperson to drive awareness on drunk driving. Namely, himself.
“I made a rotten decision and ended up here,” Grace explained. “I’m not an evil person.”
Grace told the media he hasn’t had a drink since his August arrest. And ever since sobering up, he’s been delivering a sobering message.
“What you think is intoxicated and what the state of Arizona thinks is intoxicated are two different things,” said Grace.
Two would also be the number of DUI convictions Grace endured over a 15-month span.
“Shoot, if you do what I did, not only once, but you’re dumb enough to do it twice like I did, you belong here.”
“If I do it again, I’m going to be in the Arizona Department of Corrections for over a year,” Grace continued during a Wednesday night press conference. “Like I said, my kids deserve better than that. My family deserves better than that.”
Back in high school, I had an old ball coach (no, not Steve Spurrier) who was fond of free advice to his motley collection of wanna-be-Ronnie Lotts: “Look, life really ain’t that hard. Do the most with what you have. That’s all you can do. And you owe it to everyone who doesn’t have as much as you.”
Right now, Gracie doesn’t have much more than a bunk bed under an open air tent after his day job as a D-backs minor league coach, but I do admire the manner in which he’s finding a way to create awareness.
If people live vicariously through pro athletes, then Grace is turning the tables and forcing people to look in his mirror and (maybe, just maybe) see themselves — before it’s too late.
“If I’m that stinking stupid to do that again, I want you to come punch me right in the mouth,” Grace said emphatically.
No thanks. We’ll take Grace’s message as a verbal jab and consider it a message sent.
In fact, this weekend, we have plans to attend an annual fund raiser dinner, replete with complimentary bar. Sure, I’d like to go Paulie Pale Ale. But it’s not worth it, not if I’m planning to drive.
Instead, that beer can wait until I get home for the night. Something Mark Grace can’t do until his release on June 10th.