Josh Hamilton: From Question Mark to The Answer

Jordan HofeditzAnalyst IJuly 10, 2008

There are few stories in professional sports that jump out at you more than the amazing comeback of Josh Hamilton. The former No. 1 draft pick of the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays took a route to the majors that would have killed most people.

The story has been told time and time again, but if you have somehow missed it here are the main points:

-No. 1 draft pick out of high school

-Car accident forced parents to stay home rather than travel to see Josh's minor league games

-Mid season injury left Hamilton with a lot of down time and total freedom

-Started hanging out with the wrong crowd at a tattoo parlor

*-Got addicted to crack cocaine and was suspended from baseball from 2002 until last season

*Played in 90+ games with the Reds last season, and was traded to the Rangers for the 2008 campaign.

Now that you know that, here is what is impressive. Hamilton leads the majors in RBIs - and the race isn't even close. Hamilton's 89 RBIs are nine more than Ryan Howard for the MLB lead and 22 more than Justin Morneau for the AL lead. He is third in the AL in home runs and 12th in batting average, putting him in contention for the triple crown

In a recent article in Sports Illustrated Hamilton said that the only remnants of his past life of drug addiction are the 26 tattoos that he still has. They are a constant reminder to him of what he has been through and what he still has left to accomplish.

Hamilton will start in the All-Star game in less than a week and will participate in the Home Run Derby. His 3.5 million votes were the most of any AL outfielder and only Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez had more votes than Hamilton.

And while he has accomplished so much out of such a devastating situation, he does not shy away from he past. He will still get an occasional drug-addict heckle at visiting ballparks, but he doesn't let that get to him. Instead, he uses his bat, glove and arm do the talking.

Hamilton added to his legend Wednesday night against the Angels. With "untouchable" closer Francisco Rodriguez on the mound and the Rangers down by one run Hamilton came up with Michael Young on first. During the at-bat, Young stole second and put the tying run in scoring position.

Rodriguez, "K-Rod," came into the game converting on 35 of 37 save opportunities and had only given up one home run all season. But on the 3-1 pitch to Hamilton, that all changed.

Now K-Rod had three blown saves, given up two home runs and the Rangers had once again found a way to win.

Yes, it is July 10, five days from the All-Star break, and the Rangers are still 5.5 games back and in third in the AL West, but with Hamilton on the roster the Rangers have an aura of excitement around them that has not been experienced by fans since the late 1990s.

They are fun to watch, they are winning more games and there is a story to be found everywhere.