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Josh Hamilton's Story Still Provides Hope, Even With Relapse in January

Josh Hamilton's name has come up recently in regards to a not so pleasant situation that involved alcohol. Last year Hamilton had a magnificent season with the Texas Rangers and was one of the major stories last year.

Hamilton fought off some very big demons that have plagued him since he became a No. 1 pick in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization. According to the article from USA Today in June of 2006 titled "Hamilton on the Comeback Trail," Hamilton had been in and out of eight drug treatment centers.

"I'm a drug addict," says Hamilton. "It's not terminal, but there is no cure. It's hell on earth. It's a constant struggle. And it's going to be like that for the rest of my life."

During this struggle, Hamilton stated that he thought of killing himself, and he made about five attempts. "There was even a night I thought about jumping off a building," Hamilton says softly. "I had nothing to live for. So I tried to give up. There were a lot of days like that. I let down so many people...I really didn't think I deserved to live. It's hard for me to believe I'm alive today."
 
His drug of choice was crack. "It got so bad at the end that I just started smoking (crack). I did it so much it was like smoking cigarettes," Hamilton says.

Hamilton, though, searched through state after state, trying to get the help that he needed. Through it all, his wife Katie stuck it out with her husband.

She stated that when Hamilton had gotten injured, he was pretty much bored and didn't know what to do with himself. She says, "So when he got hurt (in 2002), and was alone for the first time, he was bored. He started searching. And he just looked in the wrong places. He got wrapped up in something that gripped his soul."

During a night of drinking for Hamilton, it finally led to an arrest. He broke the windshield of a friend's truck and ripped off the side mirror. Katie kicked Josh out, and instead of going to his parents, because he was so ashamed he went to his grandma's place.

At that moment in Hamilton's life is when he agreed to meet with a psychologist named Keith Brodie. It led to many good things for Hamilton, who started seeing things in a different light and started dating his wife again, but there was still baseball missing in his life.

Hamilton stated, "It's the only thing I've been good at." So, Roy Silver and Rand Holland allowed Hamilton to use a facility in Clearwater, FL called The Winning Inning, but in order for Hamilton to stay there, he had to work.

He did manage to be reinstated to play in the major leagues, but that meant playing in the minors to get into shape. Hamilton played for Hudson Valley in Single-A. That in essence completed his comeback to baseball, but Hamilton never played a single game for the Tamp Bay Devil Rays.

In 2007 Hamilton was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft, but instead of the Cubs trying him out, he was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds. At 26 years of age, he was finally in the majors.

He put up a decent season for the Reds; he played in 90 games and hit .292 with 19 home runs, 47 RBI, 138 hits, 17 doubles, two triples, 52 runs, a .368 on-base percentage, a .554 slugging percentage, a .922 OPS, and 165 total bases.

After the 2007 season, Hamilton was traded to the Texas Rangers for Edinson Volquez, a prized pitching prospect in the Rangers organization.

That's when all the media attention began to come on Hamilton again. He had a MVP-like season last year and in the All-Star home run derby, Hamilton put on a show for the fans. He hit 28 home runs in the first round.

His 2008 season saw him put up these numbers: He played in 156 games with 190 hits, 98 runs, 32 home runs, 130 RBI, five triples, 32 doubles, a .371 on-base percentage, a .530 slugging percentage, a .901 OPS, and 331 total bases.

The 130 RBI and 331 total bases led the American Leagues, and he won a Silver Slugger as well.

In 2009, though, his season hasn't been that great. He has missed time with injuries, and there was an article explaining how some of the injuries sustained by Hamilton could stem from his cocaine use.

Even with that, Hamilton was still voted to his second All-Star game this year. His season so far: He's played in 62 games and has a .235 batting average, eight home runs, 33 RBI, 53 hits, 28 runs, two triples, eight doubles, a .289 on-base percentage, a .394 slugging percentage, a .683 OPS, and 89 total bases.

Though I'm not a Rangers fan, I want to see Hamilton succeed. So when a story came out about Hamilton, I had to take a look at it. When everything was going well for Hamilton, it was like he was Superman; he could do no wrong last year. 

He stayed clean, he was in the lineup, and he showed some of that talent that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, but now it seems like it has been short-lived. 

Jeff Passan wrote a column titled, "Hamilton Relapse Gives Us a Pause." The problem that I have with these articles coming out is that the incident happened back in January, but the pictures posted on Deadspin.com came out today.

Passan's only quote that should be mentioned from his column is this one: "A sober Josh Hamilton represented hope. A relapsed Josh Hamilton represents a different sort of hope."

I'm sorry, but that's further from the truth.

There was another article written by Joe Resnick of the Associated Press titled, "Hamilton Admits to Relapse with Alcohol."

The thing that gets lost now that the story has come out is that before that night in January, Hamilton hadn't had a drink since Oct. 6, 2005. Isn't it amazing how one event can tarnish something that was an amazing story?  

Hamilton now has three daughters. He stated, “I’m embarrassed about it for my wife Katie, for my kids, and for the organization. I’m not perfect. It’s an ongoing struggle, and it’s real. It’s amazing how these things can creep back in. But I am human and I have struggles.”

While the media is focusing on the negative, let's look at the positive from the story. Hamilton says, “As soon as it happened, I called my support staff—Katie, the organization, and MLB—and told them what happened. I was open and honest about it. People with an addiction can make a mistake.”

Jon Daniels, the Rangers' general manager, helped him out in January and even now that the story has come out. Daniels states, "We knew that going in when we acquired Josh. We know the risks of dealing with someone with substance abuse problems. Ultimately, he’s a grown man, and he has to make his own decisions. Nobody’s here to baby-sit him, but we should help him make the right decisions and help him get through this.”

As I mentioned earlier, Passan stated that "[a] sober Josh Hamilton represented hope. A relapsed Josh Hamilton represents a different sort of hope." I'm sorry, but I disagree with that.

First of all, Hamilton showed great accountability by contacting the people that he needed to when he relapsed. He called his wife, he called his support staff, he called the Rangers, and he called Major League Baseball.

He messed up, and he told the truth about it. Hamilton didn't run from it; he didn't deny it. Hamilton did exactly what he was supposed to do when that situation occurred.

Don't get me wrong, I wish it never had happened, but even with the relapse, there's still a great hope that Hamilton gives to people with his story.

It shows that Hamilton is human. How many of you can say that in the past few years you haven't given in to temptation? Whether it was something you shouldn't have eaten, maybe drinking a little too much but lying to yourself that you were able to drive home, etc.?

Why is it frowned upon on Hamilton that he failed? He admitted as much in 2006, when he said, "I'm a drug addict. It's not terminal, but there is no cure. It's hell on earth. It's a constant struggle. And it's going to be like that for the rest of my life."

What we should be thankful for though is that Hamilton has the support he needs from his wife, the people who support him, and the Rangers organization for taking a chance on him and helping him through this ordeal.

Yes, Hamilton's story is still inspiration, and even with the alcohol and the pictures that were published on Deadspin, it still hasn't changed my opinion. Rather, it has strengthened it, because Hamilton didn't hide it when the story came out.  

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