A Baseball Star's Rise to Recovery

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Tuesday night was Major League Baseball's "Midsummer Classic" -- the All-Star Game.

Monday night, the Texas Ranger's Josh Hamilton put on a show.  He wowed fans during his record-breaking run in the Home Run Derby.

Although he fell just short in the finals, it's remarkable that he was even there.  Not too long ago, Hamilton was out of baseball and fighting for his life.

Addiction

On June 2, 1999, 18-year-old Hamilton was drafted number one overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  Like all draft picks, Hamilton was sent to the minors to develop.

When his first season in the minors was filled with injuries, he had more time to spend with his new friends.

"I had my first drink of alcohol and did my first line of cocaine in the same night," Hamilton told CBN. "I can't say why I did it other than just curious."

His curiosity led to addiction.

"You know, just wanting to use and doing anything I could to get it," Hamilton explained.

Over the next three years, Hamilton checked in and out of rehab eight times.  Because of baseball's drug-testing policy, his career was also in jeopardy.

He quit taking drug tests and was suspended from baseball.  His body was taking a beating from the drugs, and he lost 50 pounds.

Road to Recovery

One night Hamilton showed up on his grandmother's doorstep and asked if she would take him in.  She hardly recognized her grandson.

"She knew that I was using, and saying to me that she knew what I was doing," Hamilton recalled.  "She just started crying and said she couldn't take it anymore seeing me like that."

"I don't even know how he was surviving," Hamilton's wife Katie said.  "He was a skeleton.  He didn't even look like the same person.  Just mentally I felt like he didn't have any grasp on reality."

Hamilton had given his life to Jesus at age 18, but after he was drafted, baseball became his focus.

His grandmother challenged him to surrender to God.

He began reading the Bible, and with God's help, Hamilton gave up drugs and alcohol and he was baptised.

"Just watching the transformation that God has made in Josh's life," Mrs. Hamilton explained.  "I mean it's just been so awesome and such a gift from the Lord to see what he's done in him."

"It's nothing I did," Hamilton explained.  "Except to to make the right choices and let God take over from there.  There's one solid and permanent way out of it and that's finding the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting him."

Hamilton is still preaching the Gospel any chance he gets.  After the Home Run Derby, he told a television reporter, "I'd like to thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity, and I glorify him any chance I get."

*Original broadcast July 15, 2008.

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