Former major leaguer Willie Mays Aikens received perhaps his greatest Christmas gift in 33 years this holiday season. The former Kansas City Royals first baseman had been without his 1980 American League championship ring since 1981, when he says it was stolen from his apartment. But thanks to the remarkable efforts of one kind person, he was finally reunited with his coveted jewelry on Christmas Eve.
According to Shawn Anderson of Hall of Very Good, the now 60-year-old Aiken says the ring was stolen from his apartment while he was visiting his mother in South Carolina. For 33 years — 14 of which Aikens spent in prison after he was found guilty on four counts of crack cocaine distribution — the whereabouts of his ring were unknown, but that changed recently when Kim Accurso received a heads up that it may be in a Kansas City pawn shop.
“I pounded the pavement to find the owner of that pawn shop. I tracked him down and eventually we set up a meeting,” Accurso continued. “He had the ring. I told him my story and he agreed to help me out.”
The pawn shop owner told Accurso that “some big guy” pawned it more than 30 years ago and it’s been sitting in a safe ever since. It’s a mystery as to how it made its way back to Kansas City from South Carolina, but one thing is certain…that ring is back where it belongs.
“Willie was thrilled to have it back. It all worked out so wonderful,” Accurso added. “The ring is safe at home.”
As Anderson readily pointed out in wake of his piece, it’s fair to question the circumstances surrounding the ring’s disappearance given Aikens’ checkered past.
Perhaps we’re hearing the whole story, perhaps we’re not. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that Aikens has turned his life around since rejoining society on June 4, 2008 and is currently clean and sober, which is perhaps the best story to be told here. He’s even written a book on his remarkable journey, in addition to rejoining the Royals as a minor league coach and spring training instructor.
The circumstances also won’t change the kind and extraordinary efforts made by Kim Accurso, who obviously didn’t owe Aikens anything, but just wanted to do the right thing. There’s a lot we can learn from her actions and her determination to provide happiness and perhaps even closure to an important chapter in Aikens’ life.
You’re encouraged to read more on this story at Hall of Very Good.
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