The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Jeremy Giambi

The following article references suicide.

Immortalized by the film "Moneyball" and being on the wrong end of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter's iconic "flip play" during the 2001 playoffs, Jeremy Giambi played six seasons in the big leagues, finishing with 52 home runs, 209 RBIs, and a .263 batting average. Constantly overshadowed by his older brother and former MVP, Jason Giambi, Jeremy's career remains a classic case of unrealized potential and off the field headlines.

During a 2020 interview with Fennell Brother Baseball, the former major league outfielder and first baseman talked about his transition from player to mentor of young men who have major league aspirations. "At this time I'm doing some personal hitting lessons, I work with teams, trying to get involved in the future of our sport," Jeremy said, "and hopefully give back a little."

However, less than two years later, Jeremy's new phase of his life was cut short at the age of 47. Let's take a look at the tragic real-life story of Jeremy Giambi.

Jeremy Giambi openly admitted to using steroids

In 2005, facing Congressional pressure, Major League Baseball unveiled new measures to combat rampant steroid use in their league. According to The New York Times, the MLB player's union reopened their collective-bargaining agreement to include harsh penalties for players who tested positive for steroids: "players who fail a test for steroids next season will be suspended 50 games, with the penalties increasing to 100 games for a second offense and a lifetime suspension for a third. A three-time offender could seek reinstatement after two years."

However, Jeremy Giambi didn't wait to be tested; he openly admitted to using steroids. "It's something I did," he told The Kansas City Star (via ESPN) while under a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. "I apologize. I made a mistake. I moved on. I kind of want it in the past." He also inferred that his older brother, Jason Giambi, used steroids after the five-time All-Star held a press conference to offer a vague apology without mentioning steroids by name. "If you don't know what he's apologizing for, you must've been in a coma for two years," the younger Giambi said.

According to the AP (via ESPN), Jeremy apparently talked so much to reporters that White Sox spokesman Bob Beghtol told the media that he was advised "by his attorney and told not to talk publicly about the subject anymore."

The former slugger got popped with marijuana

Two years before Jeremy Giambi's professional playing career was officially over, the lefty was cited for marijuana possession in Las Vegas' Harry Reid International Airport (formerly known as McCarran International Airport) in late 2001. At the time of this writing, marijuana laws have been eased in several states and cities, but we can all agree that carrying marijuana in an airport isn't the ideal move — especially in the wake of 9/11. 

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the airport's security officials searched Giambi's bag and found the goods. "A field test was done and it tested positive for marijuana," said Sgt. Christopher Darcy, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said. "It was a little over half an ounce." Giambi, who was 27 at the time, was cited on the spot. "We didn't have him long. We impounded the marijuana, wrote the citation and sent him on his way," Lt. Ted Moody of the airport police said. "He got a ticket just like anyone else would."

ESPN pointed out that at the time of his citation, he picked a relatively good place to carry marijuana. "Formerly a felony, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $600 fine for a first offense — instead of the old felony provisions of up to four years in prison," noted the sports news publication.

Jeremy Giambi's death shocked the baseball world

On February 9, 2022, Jeremy Giambi was found dead at his parents' California home. He was 47 years old. Giambi's agent, Joel Wolfe, confirmed the news to ESPN and requested "that we all respect their privacy during this difficult time." He was mourned by his former team the Oakland Athletics and other major league players. 

"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a member of our Green and Gold family, Jeremy Giambi. We offer our condolences to Jeanne, Jason, and his family and friends," the Oakland Athletics tweeted, accompanied by a picture of the slugger. World Series champion and 14-time All-Star Alex Rodriguez tweeted out his condolences. "Heartbroken to hear the news about Jeremy Giambi's passing. He was the ultimate competitor on the diamond," he wrote. "Just 47, gone way too soon. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP."

The Philadelphia Phillies, who Giambi played for in 2002, released the following statement: "The Phillies are saddened to hear the news of Jeremy Giambi's tragic passing. Our condolences go out to his family during this very difficult time." Billy Beane, the former Oakland general manager who was portrayed by Brad Pitt in "Moneyball," had this to say per Oakland A's beat writer, Shayna Rubin: "He could take a teasing and give it back. It's a tough shadow when your brother is Jason Giambi and he wore that with pride. He was well liked and fun loving."

Jeremy Giambi's cause of death revealed

Two days later, the cause of Jeremy Giambi's death was released. Per the AP, the Los Angeles medical examiner concluded Giambi died by suicide. 

Before the cause of death was confirmed, Barry Zito, who played alongside Giambi on the Oakland Athletics, sent a text to San Francisco Chronicle's Giants beat writer Susan Slusser stating he was "completely shocked by the news about Jeremy." He added that Giambi "was an incredibly loving human being with a very soft heart and it was evident to us as his teammates that he had some deeper battles going on." He went to say that Giambi's death should serve as a "wake up call for people out there to not go at it alone and for families and friends to trust their intuition." Zito concluded, "God bless Jeremy and his family in this difficult time."

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.