If you pay attention to professional sports on a regular basis, you probably have an idea what I am getting ready to discuss. Josh Hamilton is an outfielder for the Texas Rangers and one of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) young superstars. Hamilton was the 2010 American League MVP and also won the batting title last year. But positive events don’t come easy for Mr. Hamilton.
Coming out of high school, Hamilton was a superb baseball player at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh. He was a clear first round pick in the upcoming 1999 draft for his 5 tool abilities (speed, hit for average, hit for power, arm strength, and fielding ability) as an outfielder; although he could throw 97 mph from the mound as a pitcher. Hamilton was the first overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays but was sidelined by injuries in his first few minor league seasons. With time to spare because of injuries, Hamilton found himself hanging out with the wrong crowd and ultimately suspended for violating the MLB drug policy. Hamilton struggled with cocaine and alcohol addiction and did not play baseball at all from 2004 to 2006, but was given another chance in 2006 by the Cincinnati Reds. Since then, Hamilton has been traded to the Texas Rangers where he has been a 4 time All-Star and in 2008, broke the single-round record in the Home Run Derby with 28, yes 28, home runs. But this week, Josh Hamilton was once again in the spotlight for negative publicity.
On Thursday, July 7th, a foul ball was hit onto the field at Rangers Ballpark and landed in the vicinity of Hamilton. Hamilton tossed the ball into the outfield bleachers where a father and his son stood; hoping they could acquire a piece of memorabilia from the game. The father, 39 year old Shannon Stone, reached for the ball as it was falling short of his glove and his momentum carried him over the fence. Stone was unable to hold on, as he tumbled 20 feet below and landed on the concrete behind the outfield wall. Less than an hour later, Stone would pass away and once again leave Hamilton with a depressing emotion. After the incident, Hamilton said that he could not clear his head of the little boy screaming for his daddy. However, less than a week later on July 9th, Hamilton hit a walk-off home run to help the Rangers beat the Oakland A’s 7-6. Hamilton was obviously emotional as he was fighting back tears during the postgame press conference. The past 48 hours have been nothing but an up-and-down rollercoaster for Hamilton, but I have confidence that he will overcome this setback.
For those of you that would like to learn more about Josh Hamilton, I strongly recommend that you read the book Beyond Belief. This book was written by Hamilton himself and details the personal problems he faced and how he was able to overcome them. This book is not only for baseball fans, but for those wanting to read an inspiring story. I have read this book and it was truly amazing to hear Josh’s story. By the way, you can thank Dylan Tickle for this entry topic. He has also read the book and I’m sure he will tell you how much he enjoyed it.
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Josh Hamilton’s book, Beyond Belief