Last night I saw a documentary about a man with an incredible inspiring story that is what sports should be about. Sports today are mainly caught in the media as cheating, with steriods and money and videotaping, there have been no feel good stories that are awe inspiring. Baseball history was full of these moments which added to why it is considered a national pastime for our country. In light of all these steriod admitions and HGH lies, there is one player who had to get off the junk in order to play and is far better than anyone in baseball today.
Josh Hamilton is an amazing story that was covered in the local news down here when he first began is rise back into baseball as he is from Raleigh, NC. I have alot of similarities with this man as my only loves growing up were baseball and chemicals. I was good at baseball, better than alot not as great as some, but nowhere near Josh Hamilton's ability to play the game. When he made the opening day roster for the Cinncinatti Reds in 2007 fans in North Carolina were buzzing with joy for this man as well as the "he's my cousin" or "he's my nephews neighbor's friend, yeah, we go way back" type stuff, something was special about all of this. I had the chance that season in July to see Josh play in Cinncinatti against the Giants and the advocating doper himself Barry Bonds. Josh hit a home run and Bonds did not. There are many other comparisons that can be made there but Bonds is a waste of my time.
This past summer during all of the hoop-la surrounding the last season at Yankee Stadium was a kid from Raleigh and his 70-year old pitching coach. You would have to been under a rock for a week to not have heard or seen how amazing that evening was where at the home run derby Josh hit 28 HR's in one round and the majority were to places that nobody had hit the ball including two off the back wall of the stadium. Amazingly enough he gave it all to God.
I am incredibly grateful for a player like Mr. Hamilton in all that he has been through and accomplished to this day. His is a story of redemption on a scale that reaches thousands of people and sheds light on addiction and what it can do to people but that there is a way out, there is hope. With all of the celebrities that go to rehab to jump start their careers and shows like celebrity rehab were they make dramatizations of real life a real story of hope and addiction was needed and to be on this grand of a scale hopefully gives hope to families with addicts, parents, and kids in general. That here is a guy who didnt use roids, came clean, got honest, showed what temptation will do to your dreams and what you can accomplish when you put down the dope. In his case it was an amazing gift.
I quit baseball when I was in high school because I would rather party and do some dope than play the game that I loved so much as a kid. I have memories of baseball year round when I was a kid as well as substances year round. Ultimately I chose drugs and today I am sober trying to help others get and stay off drugs. Today I love baseball, I play some softball, but I try to be around baseball as much as I can. It reminds me of those days as well as the simplicity of life. In some ways Josh Hamilton is living out my dream of being in the MLB and I will cheer him on as long as its not against the Yankees. He said that when he was at Yankee stadium two weeks prior to the All-Star game the fans in the bleachers were chanting "Josh smokes crack", and then he said two weeks later at the All-Star game they were chanting "Ham-il-ton" showing how far he truely had come.
The best part about all this is that he is completely open and gives it all to God. When I was a kid my idols were Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Lawerence Taylor all of whom had long battles with substances. They were not like this. They didnt talk about it or change it for years and years. To hear Josh speak and give it all back as a ballplayer is very amazing to see. Ballplayers today are millionaires and snobs. He stays and signs autographs enough said. There was a great story about him in sports illustrated last year.
Last season Josh hit .304 with 32 HR's and 130 RBI's in his second season. He will have a huge year this year and will continue to become a superstar in baseball. This is one of those stories that people will tell their kids someday, this is an example of overcoming all odds, this is legend, he has a part of Yankee Stadium history, and for this legend its about the next person to help. "The Natural".