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
“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.
“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
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
“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
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is
senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)