“Addiction is a humbling experience. Getting it under control is even more humbling. I got better for one reason: I surrendered. Instead of asking to be bailed out, instead of making deals with God by saying, "If you get me out of this mess, I'll stop doing what I'm doing," I asked for help. I wouldn't do that before. I'd been the Devil Rays' No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, supposedly a five-tool prospect. I was a big, strong man, and I was supposed to be able to handle my problems myself. That didn't work out so well.” Josh Hamilton (as told to Tim Keown, ESPN Magazine)
Most of my friends and family know I love baseball. In fact, some may say I’m addicted to it. I watch games in awe of the ability Major League Baseball players possess. I’ve played either baseball or slow pitch softball every summer since I was six years old. While except for what I call “The Black Summer of 2007.” (My brother and I were unable to get our church team together.) One thing is for sure, when I see a slow motion replay of an outstanding play or a hitter’s swing; I know why I only play slow pitch softball. However, tonight I was quite inspired but something other than a player’s baseball talent. I was inspired by his will to overcome a humbling addiction and desire to let the world know it can be done.
1 Corinthians 10:13 states “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Josh Hamilton knows this all too well.
I agree with DallasNews.com when they say it is hard to tell Josh’s story without mentioning his faith. Josh is renowned for telling us not to. Josh’s story is one that, to me at least, is so inspiring I felt compelled to help him spread his message. People tell me all the time that athlete’s should understand, whether they like it or not, they are role models. They shouldn’t be menaces in society. They are right. You constantly hear of those who break the laws but what about the ones that are (stealing a quote Lindsay Nash) “being socially responsible.” Even though three years ago Josh would tell you himself he was not a good role model because of his faith that has changed.
After being a highly touted top prospect, Josh was drafted by Tampa Bay in 1999. Life was looking up after signing a contracted that included approximately 4 million dollars in signing bonus. His parents even resigned their employment in order to travel alongside. However, in 2001 that all crumbled along with his vehicle in an accident that left his parents and himself injured. Josh began a downward spiral into addition that included prescription drugs and numerous illegal drugs. Over the next four years he was entranced in a struggle that attributes to the devil. He was in and out of rehab however, never beating his addiction. Why? Well as noted in his quote above he was trying to do it alone. He even snubbed his wife when she would tell him that there was a bigger plan. Luckily she stayed be his side and continued to reassure him that he could beat it.
Josh sums it up best when he recounts a dream where he hit the devil with a bat continuously but the devil would pop right back up every time. Josh couldn’t put his temptation behind him. After finally breaking down at his grandmothers doorstep in the middle of the night Josh turned to God. He for once stopped making deals with God and just asked for help. Later after finally beating his addictions he had the dream again. Except this time Josh said Jesus was with him and the devil was not getting back up.
Josh has made an amazing comeback, one that I cannot effectively recount. (I encourage you to read the stories I’ve linked below to get a full understanding.) He has had one of the best seasons of anybody in baseball. Does Josh credit himself? No, he gives it all to God. In fact, after hitting 28 home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby (a new record) when asked how he did it his response was quite astounding to me. “It’s amazing what God has done in my life over the past three years, and how quickly he did it.” A quote that shows what he consistently says to many reporters, “It’s not about me, it’s about something bigger.”
Josh now speaks to youth groups, orphans, and half way homes about not running with the wrong crowds. He spends time with kids inflicted by cerebral palsy and he consistently publically expresses his faith. He refuses to hide from his addiction both publically and personally. Even turning his cash food allowances over to his friend and mentor because in his words, “there is no reason for me to have $400 in my back pocket.” He admits at times the temptation from the addiction is still there but he tells the devil that they are only thoughts and he, with God at his aide, will never act on those thoughts again.
Josh tells his story often so that maybe someone can learn the lesson he did the easy way. It’s a great story for us all. One that exemplifies Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ; who gives me strength). One that although I obviously don’t want my son living out but I hope that he understands the lesson Josh learned from it. Josh sure wants him to.
Please read the sources used for information in this blog below.
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