CHICAGO, IL --ABC7, our sister station in Chicago, spoke exclusively with the writer of a report that details former White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche's sudden decision to retire, and also includes some shocking details on his undercover mission to stop sex trafficking in Asia.
Until now, everyone assumed LaRoche walked away from the White Sox because the team no longer wanted his son to come to work with him. But in his interview with ESPN the Magazine, he says the decision was much more complicated than that.
In the off-season, he had a life-changing experience with a group called The Exodus Road, which rescues young women in Southeast Asia. It was an experience that LaRoche says helped change his outlook on life. After last season, he and another player spent time in Southeast Asia trying to identify and help rescue underage girls who had been kidnapped and were being used as sex slaves.
"He came back from there thinking, you know, 'Now I'm going to go back and play a game for eight months.' And I think his conscience kind of tugged at him with that," said Tim Keown, of ESPN the Magazine.
Keown is the first and only reporter to interview LaRoche since he abruptly retired from the White Sox last month, walking away from a guaranteed $13 million contract.
In the story, LaRoche talks about how he felt at the airport waiting to come home from Southeast Asia.
"I was sick," LaRoche said in the report. "I was thinking about my kids and then thinking about the hundreds of thousands of parents who are searching for their 12-year-old daughters."
LaRoche abruptly announced he was walking away from the game when the White Sox barred him from bringing his teenage old son Drake to the ball park with him. He instantly became a poster boy in a discussion about parents' rights and spoiled athletes. It was a hot topic on sports talk radio.
"The average person goes, 'What are you crazy? Six more months, you get another $13 million,'" said David Kaplan, of ESPN Radio.
Those who know LaRoche say he is very religious and conservative. He comes from a baseball family and he spent time around major league teams with his dad when he was a kid. In the interview, he defends the idea of bringing his son around a baseball locker room.
"You can say, 'That's no place for a kid to be,' LaRoche said in the report. "The way I see it, he's going to be around that regardless, unless you home-school and raise them in a bubble. I can't think of a better place for him to be when he gets a taste of that than with me."
"I didn't sense any regrets, I didn't sense any anger. I saw a guy who had put the decision behind him," Keown said.
The interview was done a little more than a week after LaRoche left the Sox. Since that time, he and his family have been on a road trip through California in their RV. But he did say he has no intention of filing a grievance against the team to try to recover his salary. He says it was his decision to walk away.