Josh Hamilton: The American Dream
One of the most important beliefs that Americans share is that personal striving results in upward economic mobility. The foundation of this belief is the essence of what is known as the “American dream”. For those who follow this dream, the conclusion must be made that one can overcome any obstacle with the necessary talent and determination. One of the most popular means in increasing one’s social status is through sports. Sports are ideal for understanding the pursuit of the American dream because achievement and success is highly emphasized in all sports. Also, sports figures frequently play lead role in the “rags to riches” stories Americans hear from the media. No one in sports today can carry the title of rags to riches to rags to riches again as does Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. Born on May 20th 1981, Josh was the first overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was considered a blue chip prospect until injuries and a drug addiction derailed his career in 2001.
Many people today use faith as method of strength, drive, and determination to get through anything one sets their mind to. But faith comes up often in the story of 26-year-old Joshua Holt Hamilton. It's nearly impossible to tell his story without mentioning his Christian faith. Faith, he regularly testifies, has put him back in baseball after four years of addiction problems so ugly you can't blame his family for not wanting to relive them. But because of faith, Josh and his family attend churches, youth groups and halfway houses. When he was barely 15, Hamilton was already a North Carolina sports legend. He was that rarest of finds, a true five-tool player. Left-handed, he was so gifted that he occasionally played shortstop and even hoped to be a catcher. But coaches were too protective of his arm because when he pitched, he hit 95-96 mph. When he played the outfield, nobody dared to take the next base on him. When he hit, everybody gasped at the power. As a result, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays made Hamilton the first overall choice in the 1999 draft. He was the first high school player to be a number one draft pick since Alex Rodriguez in 1993. Hamilton signed two days later.
After Josh signed his contract, his parents left their home to be his chaperone. Together, they packed up and headed to Princeton, W.Va., in the rookie-level Appalachian League. Almost immediately, Hamilton was launching talk-of-the-town homeruns. Within two years, he was named the top prospect in all of the minors. Josh was on top of the world, he had more money then anyone could ask for, his success on the field was paying off but then it all came crashing down. In February 2001, Hamilton and his parents were involved in a car accident in Bradenton, Florida. After one of his spring workouts a dump truck sideswiped their pickup truck. His parents, Tony and Linda, had to return to North Carolina because of their injuries. For the first time in his life, Josh Hamilton was alone. He eventually ended up on the disabled list that May because of lingering back issues, most likely occurring from the accident. After the accident teammates described Josh as someone that was used to constant activity and who had been somewhat sheltered from teammates. While on the disabled list he had nothing but time and money on his hands. He started hanging out at a tattoo shop, where earlier he had his first tattoo done. One tattoo led to another. He has himself inked with flames, tribal signs and blank-eyed demons, 26 tattoos in all. He started hanging out with the guys from the tattoo parlor which led to trouble. He joined them one night at a strip club where he took his first drink and snorted his first line of cocaine. After rehabilitating from the injuries, he returned to baseball in 2002 playing for the Bakersfield Blaze, in which he hit .303 with 9 HR and 44 RBI in the...