PATERSON, N.J. (WABC) – Monday was a special honor for a former professional pitcher who turned his life around after overcoming addiction.

Paterson authorities have awarded Michael Jackson’s addiction counselor a key to the city.

Jackson was a pitcher in the 70s for the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals and Indians.

Off the field, Jackson struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. His addiction cost him his career and landed him in and out of jail.

Now 36 years sober, he works as a drug counselor for men struggling with drug addiction.

“Receiving this key to the city was a complete surprise to me, honestly, walk with God, the creator and giver of all good and perfect gifts, because through what I went through, he was preparing his purpose for me,” Jackson said. .

Jackson works for the nonprofit Straight and Narrow, the same group that helped him recover and get his life back on track.

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