This week’s Motivational Monday is a continuation of last week’s! Part 2 of “Hambone” Hamilton. The remarkable transformation of a super talented all-star.
While the winter meetings are heating up in Nashville, Tennessee, many MLB clubs are in crunch time. This means making big trades, tweaking line ups, going after prospects, and scouring the market for the available free agents. With the high profile pitchers finally signed, like Zach Greinke, the undoubtedly biggest name in the Major League Baseball market is Josh Hamilton. This power hitting outfielder could be an asset for any team, but not only because of his hall of fame caliber talent. His story and value to any team is priceless:
Unfortunately, many of the famous athlete headlines in the past few years have been for something negative. Athletes have it all, and in some selfish act or poor decision, have it all thrown away. Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, University of Miami recruits, and anyone in the steroid scandal are all stories that prove this to be true. Josh Hamilton is inspiring for just the opposite. He had it all taken away. He was at the bottom of the barrel. And now, he’s back.
From Raleigh, North Carolina, Hamilton was a well-known name at an early age. Josh averaged thirty yards a carry in youth league football, was the first to dunk a basketball in his age group, and, due to parent complaints, had to move up an age bracket in his baseball league. High school coaches, prospects, and players could only stand in awe at the talent of Hamilton. It almost didn’t seem real the things that Josh could do at such a young age. Hamilton hit several outfield lights with long balls with his time at Athens Drive High School, and had a 96 mph fastball. Not surprising where the nickname, “Hambone”, came from.
Josh Hamilton, now 30 years old, was the first overall pick in the 1999 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Hamilton was considered a 5 tool player and projected to be on the fast track to the major league. However, beginning in 2001, Hamilton took a nose dive.
After an injury, addiction ran rampant in Hamilton’s life. Hamilton became addicted to crack, prescription drugs, and claimed that he had days that he wished the Lord would just take his life. Waking up in strange places and falling asleep scared were of the norm during this phase of Hamilton’s life. He constantly had a cloudy mind and cloudy conscious.
Hamilton attempted to return to baseball from 2001-2003, but failed drug tests and his life was not in order. It was then that Hamilton took the biggest plunge of his life. From 2003-2005, Hamilton drowned in his addictions. Baseball was no longer a thought in his mind. Hamilton needed help.
In the past week, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquired, once again, the biggest free agent in baseball: Josh Hamilton. Signing a 5 year deal with the Angels ends Hamilton’s run with the Rangers, and solidifies an already potent lineup for the Halos. I wish Hamilton the best of luck and wisdom as he discovers the joys and ignores the pitfalls of this new city.
In October 2005, coming down from a crack binge, Hamilton endured his first week of sobriety. While staying at his grandmother’s house, he experienced a dream, or better stated, a nightmare. He dreamed that the devil was attacking him. Josh kept hitting him with a bat, but the devil would keep getting up and laughing. Exhausted, Hamilton lay on the ground defeated. Hamilton was afraid, and even crawled into bed with his grandmother for comfort. Afraid and ready for a change, Hamilton sought to rebuild his life, his marriage, and his career.
In June 2006, Hamilton was reinstated by Major League Baseball. This was a major success in his recovery process. This success has not bid well for Hamilton in the past, and he would come under attack again. Hamilton had the same dream. The devil was back. Attacking him again and again, Hamilton grew weak. Hamilton felt a presence at his side. As he fought, he felt the presence of Jesus standing and battling beside him and he was filled with strength. The devil did not stand a chance.
“You can doubt me, but I swear to you I dreamed it. When I woke up, I felt at peace. I wasn’t scared. To me, the lesson was obvious: Alone, I couldn’t win this battle. With Jesus, I couldn’t lose.”
Please check this out!!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-U-oaXKqzw
Hamilton realized what he needed to do, and realized that he couldn’t do it alone, but only by faith. Hamilton was drafted by the Reds in the 2007. In his first at-bat at the major leagues, Hamilton looked up to see his wife Katie and his two young daughters, Sierra and Julia, sitting in the crowd. Hamilton received a standing ovation, and had to fight to not break down right there. Cub’s catcher said to Hamilton at the plate, “You deserve it, Josh. Take it all in, brother. I’m happy for you.”
Josh Hamilton has a .304 batting average over his 6 years pro, 161 home runs, and 553 RBI. Hamilton has made the all-star team every year since 2008, five years in a row. There are many facets of Josh Hamilton that one could look up to. For example, taking a student with special needs in his high school under his wing and becoming lifelong friends. Or maybe the fact that after being dissed as a kid looking for autographs, Hamilton signs as many things as he can for kids. But for now, Josh Hamilton is one of today’s most inspirational and motivating figures because of his past, and his reliance on his faith to overcome it.
Hamilton is by no means out of the woods when it comes to his addictions. A friend and mentor travels with Josh and handles the cash that he gets for food, as Hamilton admits that walking around with $400 cash in his pocket isn’t a very good idea. The temptations still arise at times, but Hamilton has surrounded himself with those he knows he can trust.
But there is one story that sticks with me, so much so that I think of it every day. I was driving out of the players’ parking lot at Great American Ball Park after a game in May, with Katie and our two girls. There’s always a group of fans standing at the curb, hoping to get autographs, and I stop to sign as many as I can.
And on this particular night, a little boy of about 9 or 10, wearing a Reds cap, handed me a pen and something to sign. Nothing unusual there, but as I was writing the boy said, “Josh, you’re my savior.”
This stopped me. I looked at him and said, “Well, thank you. Do you know who my savior is?”
He thought for a minute. I could see the gears turning. Finally, he smiled and blurted out, “Jesus Christ.” He said it like he’d just come up with the answer to a test. “That’s exactly right,” I said.
You see, I may not know how I got here from there, but every day I get a better understanding of why.
- Josh Hamilton
Much credit and quotes to go to several sources including ESPN, and if you want to read more you can find the incredible stories here!