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Rangers all-star tells of ups, downs
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
November 22, 2010
4 MIN READ TIME

Rangers all-star tells of ups, downs

Rangers all-star tells of ups, downs
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
November 22, 2010

DALLAS — Texas Rangers

outfielder Josh Hamilton told a Texas Baptist mega-church Nov. 7 that he would

not have overcome the alcohol and drug addiction that nearly cost him his

baseball career without God’s help.

Coming off a season in which

he won the American League batting title and led the Rangers to their first

World Series, Hamilton, 29, told

worshippers at First Baptist Church in Dallas that the best part of his

MVP-caliber year was the platform it gave him to talk about his faith in Jesus

Christ.

“That’s what I enjoyed most

about the entire year,” Hamilton said. “Not the awards, not going to the

playoffs, going to the World Series … but it was about sharing Christ with as

many news people as I could, preferably live so they can’t cut out Jesus’ name.”

Hamilton, who recounts his

faith story in a 2008 book titled Beyond

Belief, told the congregation he went to church on and off while growing

up, but most of his interests revolved around sports. He accepted Christ after

his rookie season but did not become grounded in his faith.

After injuries suffered in

an automobile accident forced him out of baseball, Hamilton started hanging

around tattoo parlors, where his friends introduced him to alcohol and drugs.

Photo by Keith Allison

Josh Hamilton

“It was the biggest mistake

of my life,” Hamilton told worshippers.

After that, he said, he was

on and off of drugs for the next three years but got suspended from baseball

after failing a couple of drug tests.

He stayed clean for several

months, got married and started a family before a relapse forced a separation

in his marriage and a restraining order against him to keep him out of his

home.

He hit bottom when his

grandmother confronted him for using drugs in her house and for the first time

made him understand how he was hurting people who loved him. He pulled a Bible

from a closet and recommitted his life to Christ.

Hamilton said the experience

brought about a complete reordering of his priorities, which before than had

been exclusively about baseball.

“When I recommitted my life

to Christ, the priorities made a drastic change,” he said. “It went God first,

humility, family, sobriety and then baseball, if it ever happened again.”

But all that didn’t prevent

another well-documented relapse when he went to Arizona to prepare for the 2009

season.

“For three weeks I stopped

reading my Bible,” he said. “I stopped doing my devotions. I stopped praying. I

stopped fellowshipping with my accountability partner for three weeks. And I

thought I could take one drink. And that one drink led to about 20.”

Hamilton said he has to take

safeguards to keep from falling off the wagon. For one thing, he doesn’t carry

cash or credit cards. If he needs to buy gas for his truck, even though it is

inconvenient, he calls his wife to meet him at the gas station and then returns

the credit card to her after filling up his tank.

He also consciously

surrounds himself with people who care about him and want the best for him.

“It’s an every day battle,”

he admitted. “I’ve got to get up every morning and take my cross up. I’ve got

to just wake up in the morning and tell myself with God’s help and Christ’s

help I’m going to be a responsible man, husband, father today.”

His support system extended

to his Ranger teammates, who rallied

around him after winning the American League Division Series by dousing his

head with ginger ale instead of the traditional championship celebration

involving champagne.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is

senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)