Nine years ago, Josh Hamilton was on top of the world, becoming the top draft pick of the (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Early on, he didn't disappoint, showing his immense talent in the minor leagues.
Unfortunately, things didn't last. Hamilton began to struggle with injuries, and an addiction to cocaine began. In the years that followed, his life reached new lows: seven failed rehab attempts, five suicide tries, and (the least of his worries) three lost seasons.
Then in 2005, he turned things around. Having found strength in God, Hamilton's eight attempt at rehab worked. Two years later, he made his return to baseball with the Reds. He hit .292 with 19 home runs before being traded to the Rangers. He has yet to disappoint; the Hambino is hitting .308 with 22 homers and 98 RBI in route to his first All-Star appearance.
Oh, and he had 28 home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby, adding frosting to the cake that is his recovery story. Who could resist such a perfect story? Nobody. Not the media. Not the public. Josh Hamilton was an inspiration for us all and addicts everywhere!
Shakespeare DiMaggio of Tirico Suave says not so fast; is Josh Hamilton really all that inspirational?
When I think of inspirational sports stories, I think of Lance Armstrong dominating the Tour De France after beating cancer. How about Ray Ray McElrathbey raising his younger brother and playing Division One ball for Clemson. Jim Abbott overcoming his disability and carving out a nice Major League Career. Or even Jason McElwain dropping 20 in 4 minutes. I don’t think of a guy who dealt with the adversity of an injury by taking up crack.The people who would best identify with Josh Hamilton's story would be fellow drug addicts. But would they find all that much inspiration? Your run-of-the-mill junkie can't afford quality rehab clinics, let alone eight. Your average addict doesn't have a handler following him around, making sure he stays away from his vices.
The typical junkie isn't a talented baseball player.
If I was a drug addict, I think I might even resent Josh Hamilton.