Josh Hamilton: Rescued by Faith

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Josh Hamilton:  Rescued by Faith

You've seen it on ESPN, MLB.com, New York Times, and just about every other media output, but I am here to tell the story right here, right now.

On May 21, 1981, Joshua Hamilton was born to a family that would support him in everything he did, and would teach him the difference between right and wrong.

However, Hamilton would eventually would turn away from the morals that he and his brother Jason were taught.

When Josh Hamilton was in little league baseball, he was said to be a baseball prodigy. Many parents complained that Hamilton's unheard of power was going to hurt their children.

Little did they know Hamilton would one day set records in the MLB Home Run Derby.

The town he grew up in, Raleigh, N.C., believed he was destined to be in the same place as Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth—the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Some thought the other kids would eventually catch up to Hamilton's superior athletic ability, but Hamilton would have none of that, continuing to surpass them.

When Hamilton was on the basketball team, a father of another player kept saying how good Hamilton was at basketball. The other parents simply told him, "just wait until you see him play baseball."

At 18 years old, Josh Hamilton was already a town legend.

In high school, Hamilton was named the country's No. 1 amateur player of the year by USA Baseball. Twice he was named high school player of the year by Gatorade and once by Baseball America.

He was destined for great things, many believing he was one of those once-in-a-generation talents.

In the 1999 draft, with the first overall pick, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Joshua Hamilton.  The team would then go on to select another outfielder, Carl Crawford, a star in his own right, in the second round.

Together, Crawford and Hamilton dominated the minor leagues, becoming great friends and teammates.

After a minor league game, the two went to Wendy's to get some food when Hamilton started asking about Crawford's tattoo.

Crawford then asked Hamilton why he doesn't have one, with an obedient Hamilton explaining that his parents would not approve of it.

Crawford then told Hamilton to forget about his parents, and that he should get one if he wanted it. Hamilton waited a while to get a tattoo; he wanted to stick to baseball for the time being.

Josh Hamilton then got in a car accident with a dump truck, followed by more injuries, rendering him unfit to play baseball while recovering.  Without having their son to watch, Hamilton's parents—his mom and dad followed Josh's minor league teams to every game—decided to move back to Raleigh.

Hamilton lost the two loves of his life, baseball and his parents, resulting in him having plenty of time on his hand.  He would spend the time hanging out at a tattoo parlor.

He felt relaxed at the parlor, to the point where he would end up spending eight hours a day there on occassion.  The friends at the parlor—using alcohol and drugs—were far different from those in the dugout.

It wasn't long before Hamilton entered the viscious cycle of drugs and booze.

Hamilton tried to get out of it; many times he believed he was, but he was wrong.

He believed he had no hope, but he still thought he could get out of it. He said the time felt like a hundred years, but from all the stories he has told from that time, you would think it was more like a thousand.

Josh Hamilton then started to date his future wife, Katie. She had no clue he was into drugs until about four months in to their relationship, when she finally suspected he was up to something bad.

They then broke up for about one and a half years.

During that time, the Tampa Bay Rays found out that Hamilton was a drug and alcohol addict, ruining his body with the use of crack-cocaine. They decided to send their former first-round pick to a rehab center, which Hamilton left after a short period of time.

When Hamilton was momentarily sober, Katie and he got together once again, marrying in November 2004.

In December, the couple found out Katie was pregnant with her second child (she had a daugther, Julia, from a previous relationship).

Hamilton was clean for three days after the birth of Sierra Hamilton, but it wouldn't last long; he began getting into his old routine of alcohol and crack-cocaine.

When his wife would ask him to run simple errands, such as picking up a prescription, Hamilton wound up in a bar instead.

At some time during Hamilton's addiction, his father-in-law, Michael Chadwick, a former drug addict himself, intervened into the madness. See, Hamilton was in some trouble with a drug dealer who was threatening his wife.

So Chadwick went to where the drug dealer was, touting a black trench coat and two guns, one of which a sawed-off shotgun.

He told the dealer, "I have your money. If you even try to talk to my son-in-law, I will become someone you really don't like." Although Katie and Josh were separated at the time, Michael Chadwick still cared about their marriage.

Hamilton was then confronted by his grandmother, Mary Holt Hamilton, who lectured him, saying that he's a person who deserves a better life than the one he was living at the time.

Josh Hamilton's last day of drugs and alcohol was Oct. 6, 2005. Hamilton credits his remarkable turn around to God.

Now, before every Hamilton at-bat, "Saved the Day," a song by Christian group Philips, Craig, and Dean, is played.

Hamilton will sign autographs to anyone who asks for one, his relationship with fans incomparable.

Any city Hamilton visits, fans always thank him for what he's doing now: sharing the word of God through baseball.

The Cubs selected Josh Hamilton in the Rule 5 draft for the Reds because they didn't want to add anyone to their 25 man roster. Hamilton kept producing in his rookie season of 2007, belting 19 home runs.

During the offseason, Josh Hamilton was traded to the Texas Rangers for Edinson Volquez and another minor league pitcher.

In April of 2008, Hamilton was named American League player of the month, batting .320 with 32 RBI. He then prayed to God, saying the better he does, the more people will listen to what he has to say.

Josh Hamilton was voted to the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, but the highlight of that week was not the game itself, but Josh Hamilton's performance in the Home Run Derby.

One little known thing about Josh Hamilton is that he once dreamt of participating in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium, and he did just that on July 14, 2008.

It started off with Hamilton telling his high school coach that he had to go to the dugout while the other contestants were practicing. In the dugout, Hamilton and his coach prayed for guidance and basically for a healthy night.

A record-breaking night it was: Hamilton broke the first-round record of 25 home runs with an absurd 28. The pitcher was his old high school coach, and his wife was laughing from excitement.

Hamilton did eventually lose to Justin Mourneau in the final round, but had he not hit those 28 in the first round, exhausting much of his power, the outcome would have been different.

Going into 2009, some think Hamilton will slow down, while many others, myself included, believe he has yet to enter his prime.

Josh Hamilton also wrote a book, Beyond Belief. I would highly suggest it; however, I have yet to read it (ask me again in about a month).

"I'm proof that hope is never lost," Hamilton said.

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