NEW YORK – Rock bottom for Josh Hamilton was the day he showed up
helpless at his grandma’s doorstep, strung out, scraggly, 50 pounds
lighter than the 230 pounds of rock-solid muscle he now sports. It was
just a week or so before the day – Oct. 6, 2005 – he went sober and
drug free.

There
were so many other times when he thought it couldn’t get worse, and it
did. He was a drug addict. He was slowly killing himself. This
All-American kid with the perfect swing had made a 180-degree
turnaround, wasting his talent, wasting his life. Nobody knew him
anymore. He didn’t know himself.

Hamilton was the No. 1 pick in
the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. This Raleigh, N.C., kid had
superstar and Hall of Fame written all over him. With such a natural
lefthanded swing, and such natural talent, it’s amazing that so many
unnatural things went through his body.

Yet almost nine years
after being drafted and plenty of time out of the game, Hamilton is
that superstar again. Now with the Texas Rangers, the outfielder is
hitting .310 with 21 home runs and 95 RBIs and was voted a starter for
tonight’s All-Star Game.

Certainly drug addiction is a problem
that never goes away. Hamilton spends most of his days in the company
of Johnny Narron, brother of former Red Sox coach Jerry, who keeps him
on the straight and narrow. He is constant ly reminded of his former
life, through media questioning and all of the things he has to do to
remain drug free. He even has physical reminders – the tattoos on his
arms that he had done during his dark period.    continue reading

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