Illegal Man Downfield: Relapse? So what?

Dylan Stinson
Assistant Sports Editor


Josh Hamilton is one amazing dude.

Hamilton is best know for being the starting left fielder for the Texas Rangers, but he has much more to his story than that. Hamilton is one of the most praised and recruited high school baseball players in the last 10 years.

Upon graduating high school Hamilton signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for $3.96 million. Hamilton seemed to be on top of the world; he was young, talented and rich, however being away from home for the first time in his life caused him to experiment with drugs and alcohol, which would eventually lead to a horrible addiction and a failing career.

Reporters described Hamilton as a shame and a wasted talent. The kid who was once on top of the world was now spiraling out of control and hitting rock bottom.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Hamilton overcame his drug addiction after being confronted by his weeping grandmother. Hamilton says his faith in God is what brought him out of addiction and gave him a new start.

Once Hamilton sobered up, the sports world got to see how truly gifted he is with a bat in his hand. Hamilton was the 2008 American League RBI champion, 2010 American League batting champion, the 2010 American League Championship MVP and the 2010 American League MVP among many other awards.

I tell you all this to show you how far Hamilton has come. Hamilton has disciplined himself for a long time to accomplish all that he has, clean his life up and get his act together. With that being said, Hamilton had a relapse in 2009 where pictures were taken of him partying with women, shirtless inside a bar with glazed over eyes that would make anyone think he was heavily intoxicated.

Hamilton apologized for his actions and went on with his life and career. Everything seemed to blow over as people thought this was his one big relapse. After all, everyone is allowed to have one relapse right?

That is until last week when it was revealed that Hamilton had yet another relapse with alcohol. Fans and critiques are now bashing Hamilton for being a hypocrite and laughing at his professed belief that Jesus gives him strength.

The fact of the matter is people who are bashing Hamilton for his relapse do not understand one of two things. One is that he is a human being, and just because he can swing a bat and hit a ball 500 feet does not change the fact that he has flaws, struggles and demons to deal with just like everyone else.

The second thing fans don’t seem to understand is addiction is real. Anyone who has have ever known someone who struggles with addiction, especially substance abuse addiction, knows that it is an ugly and brutal battle that a person has to fight everyday. It’s not like Hamilton woke up the morning of his relapse and said “well, I feel like getting drunk today.”

Addicts like Hamilton have to struggle with their addiction every day for the rest of their life. Some days are easy and seems like they will never touch their addiction again and some days are hard.

There are days when addicts like Hamilton have weak moments and stumble, just like the rest of us. The fact of the matter is Hamilton has come a long way from his dark days, and instead of criticizing and lashing out at him we, as sports fans, should rally around him to see him persevere. Have some compassion on the man! He made a mistake!

This isn’t the end of the world for Hamilton, and I hope he will show his critics he is the same person: An honest, humble, struggling man who does his best to fight his battles everyday.

We should all sympathize with Hamilton, knowing we have our own struggles and sins to deal with. Let’s just be thankful ours aren’t televised every time we fall and have compassion on Hamilton, because his are.