At the height of his career success, Tyler Skaggs seemed on top of the world. The 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher was newly married to his wife, Carli, and had signed a new multimillion-dollar contract with the Angels in 2019.
On July 1st, while in Houston to play the Texas Rangers, Skaggs was found unresponsive in his hotel room. Emergency responders pronounced him dead at the scene, though no foul play was suspected and there were no signs of trauma at the scene.
Just last week, the results from Skaggs’ autopsy were revealed. The findings stated that his system contained fentanyl and oxycodone, in addition to alcohol. His cause of death was stated to be an accidental overdose. Skaggs ultimately had choked on his own vomit while under the influence of drugs.
While the death is still under investigation, Skaggs’ family released a statement stating that, “We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol.That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League Baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.”
In that statement, the family also indicates that an employee of the Angels association might have been involved with the circumstances that led to Skaggs’ death. An MLB spokesperson maintains that the case, and these claims, are under investigation.
Skaggs got his start in the MLB playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, making his professional debut in 2012. Traded to the Angels in 2013, Skaggs played until August 2014, when he sustained an injury that necessitated ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, also known in the baseball world as Tommy John surgery.
The highly successful pitcher was the leader in wins and strikeouts for the 2019 season. At the time of his death, Skaggs had pitched over 520 innings.
In addition to his professional success, Skaggs was also highly valued as a teammate and friend. Speaking out about his loss, Skaggs’ teammate Mike Trout found it difficult to accept the news of Skaggs’ cause of death.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Trout said, “It doesn’t change my view on Tyler. He made a big impact on my life, this team. I was kind of shocked when the news came out like that.”
Trout also stated that he “didn’t know Tyler was going through this.”
Coupled with the reaction of his family in their official statement, it appears that most were unaware if Skaggs was dealing with any type of drug dependency or substance abuse.
As the news made its rounds, his team was forced to revisit the pain of their loss. Three months after Skaggs’ tragic passing, his team still has his place set up in the locker room and plays videos of him at their home stadium.
Following Skaggs’ death, his impact in the MLB was felt nationwide, with many players sporting “We Love You Ty,” and “Forty Five,” Skaggs’ number, on the back of their jerseys for the annual Players Weekend event.
Tributes poured in from across all sports franchises, with heartfelt statements from other MLB, NBA, and NFL teams that stood in solidarity with the Angels in their time of grief.
As we learn more about the circumstances surrounding Skaggs’ death, it is an important reminder that anyone can be struggling with substance use disorders—even unbeknownst to family or friends.
This tragic loss cautions us to check in with our loved ones, and to know the signs of substance abuse that are hidden beneath.
Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.