Monday, April 23, 2012

Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton was the first player chosen in the first round of the 1999 baseball draft. He was destined to be one of those rare “high-character” superstars. But in 2001, working his way from the minors to the majors, all of the plans for Josh went off the rails in a moment of weakness. What followed was a 4-year nightmare of drugs and alcohol, estrangement from friends and family, and his eventual suspension from baseball.
BEYOND BELIEF details the events that led up to the derailment. Josh explains how a young man destined for fame and wealth could allow his life to be taken over by drugs and alcohol. But it is also the memoir of a spiritual journey that breaks through pain and heartbreak and leads to the rebirth of his major-league career.

DISCLOSURE: The drug abuse in the book is quite frequent, and some of it can be disturbing to read.

I have always been a big fan of sports, so I tend to enjoy biographies or memoirs about athletes; Josh Hamilton’s is my favorite by far. This is an amazing story of how a young man with the world at his front door managed to get his baseball career back on track after years of abusing cocaine, crack, and alcohol. I have to admit that I am intrigued by stories about addiction, mainly because I have never used drugs so the idea of someone’s whole life revolving around trying to get your next high is so foreign to me. How could someone with such a bright, successful future just throw it all away to go on a binger? Josh explains his story in a way that makes you understand this is a force bigger than yourself. It changes your perspective on everything, and eventually you don’t care about anything…including baseball...other than getting high. He did some pretty awful things to his friends and family, but there was not one time during this book that I wasn’t rooting for Josh to turn it all around.  

It really broke my heart to see how self-destructive Josh was becoming, and how his amazing baseball career was slipping further and further out of reach. He was going from a #1 prospect to a crack head with wasted talent. He details how this drug use took a toll not only on his life, but his parents, his brother, and his girlfriend who would eventually become his wife. The entire baseball league looked at him as a waste of money, and a huge liability. He explains how he managed to blow through his entire $4 million signing bonus, because of the amount of money he was spending on drugs daily. My heart ached for his family and all those around him who genuinely tried to help him beat his addiction, and each time Josh entered rehab, I found myself praying this would be the time he would finally get clean. Josh finally formed a relationship with God, and hoped for a comeback with the help of his family, friends, and Savior that he neglected for years because his life revolved around drugs and alcohol.

This is just a wonderfully told story about an incredibly talented baseball player battling some incredibly large demons. I would recommend this book not just to sports fans, but to anyone who enjoys a story of the highs and extreme lows of overcoming drug and alcohol abuse. 

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