Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Inspiring Story of Josh Hamilton

If you are any kind of Major League Baseball fan then you have most likely followed the story of the Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton. A number one overall draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays back in 1999, Hamilton squandered away his opportunities in baseball through a lengthy addiction to drugs. Though blessed with obvious talent for the game, Hamilton was out of baseball for several years due to his addictions.

Then in 2006, having kicked his drug habits as a result of rehab and his newfound relationship with God, Hamilton entered back into baseball. He spent the 2007 season with the Cincinnati Reds where he had an impressive rookie season by batting .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBI's. Traded to the Texas Rangers before the start of this season, he has gone on to have one of the most productive season of any players in the game. At the All-Star break, he has 21 homeruns, 95 RBI's and a .310 batting average and will be starting in centerfield for the American League in tonight's game.

Many in the nation found themselves rooting for Hamilton when, as one of the participants in the annual Home Run Derby, he set a record with 28 homers in the first round. Although he went onto lose the contest to Justin Morneau of the Twins, the Yankee Stadium crowd was behind him with each swing of the bat.

I like what Mike Lopresti has to say as he recounts Hamilton's dream from a couple of years ago:

"Ask why people gravitate to his story and he'll show a grasp for a reality of human nature that Pete Rose and Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds would have been better off understanding. People want to forgive. But you have to give them a reason. "I've been honest about everything," he said. "I've taken responsibility. I haven't made excuses. I made mistakes. I don't know many people who haven't."
Monday's fireworks display came with a story from the past. This was 2006. Hamilton had been sober only a few months. But he went to bed one night, and dreamed. "I was in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium," he said. "I'm not making this stuff up. I didn't see how I did. I just saw the microphones stuck in my face after I was finished hitting, and I got to share with the people the reasons I was back." The dream turned real Monday night in the Bronx, with a New York night that goes in the All-Star scrapbook. Really, can this comeback become any more of a Hollywood production?
What thrilled him most was his family was here to watch. "Everything I went through," he said, "they went through." But the consequences of the dark days are not over. He has to take a drug test today. Three times a week, All-Star Game or not."
A living example of the Prodigal Son that Jesus referred to in Luke 15, Josh Hamilton is demonstrating that there are no lost causes in God's eyes. I hope that he continues to stay on the straight and narrow and serves as a positive role model for young baseball fans everywhere.

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