Dwight Gooden, an integral part of the New York Mets' 1986 World Series championship, missed the team's ticker-tape parade that year because he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
But Gooden finally got his day in the sun on Friday, as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the Mets Hall of Famer a key to the city in a celebration at City Hall Plaza.
Among those on hand to honour four-time MLB All-Star Gooden were former team-mates Darryl Strawberry, Jesse Orosco and Bobby Ojeda.
"Today's a day I never thought would happen," Gooden said. "It's been a long journey, and I am grateful to be here."
Gooden took the baseball world by storm in 1984, winning 17 games and leading the National League (NL) in strikeouts at age 19.
A year later, the three-time World Series champion won the Cy Young Award (24-4, 1.53 ERA), and he followed that up with 17 wins in 1986, when the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox in a classic seven-game series.
But Gooden's struggles with drugs and alcohol throughout his career and beyond have been well documented. He told ESPN in 2011 he missed that championship parade because he was high.
Gooden made up for lost time Friday. The event will be featured as part of a documentary on Gooden and Strawberry being produced by radio host Amy Heart.