Blog Entry

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Posted on: February 3, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 4:42 pm
Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The first time I met Josh Hamilton was the two days before pitchers and catchers reported in 2007. The Reds had acquired him from the Cubs after the Rule 5 draft and he was at the team's complex in Sarasota, Fla., working with manager Jerry Narron and Johnny Narron, who would go on to become what the Rangers would call his "accountability coach." I briefly saw Josh and was struck by the size of the guy -- if God were to build a baseball player, he'd look exactly like this -- minus the tattoos. That wasn't the first time I was shocked by Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton
Our first meeting was quick, we introduced ourselves and that was it. His full press conference and time to write the full Josh Hamilton story would come later. As the Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Post, I'd be spending plenty of time with Hamilton in the next seven months or so, talking to him quite a bit and watching a budding superstar on the field.

Early in the first spring training, Hamilton held a press conference and said he'd take all questions. He went through his entire story, a story that has become widely known since then, but was incredible and fresh at the time. He was open, honest and above all, accountable for his own actions. At one point, he spoke about the guy who introduced him to drugs, who opened the door to his path of addiction. He made sure to note, the guy "wasn't a bad person, he was just into bad things." That always impressed me. Josh said he made the decision, he'd live the with the consequences and refused to blame anyone but himself for his addiction.

I only remember one question he wouldn't answer, it came after his press conference I went up to him and asked about specifics of which drugs he used and he said it didn't really matter, that wasn't the point -- but did note he never used a needle. I respected his wishes and left it alone.

Josh HamiltonAfter hours of writing, I wrote "the Josh Hamilton story" for my newspaper. It was long and didn't even come close to explaining the whole story, but I did my best and tried to do it justice. After that, all spring the story was about what he did on the field and it became evident that he'd not only make the team, but he'd be a big part of that year's team.

For a while, the Hamilton story went quiet, but once the regular season began, the "Josh Hamilton story" came up every time we went to a new city. The first game of every road series against a new team, Hamilton would hold another press conference, telling his story again and again. Throughout the season, he'd repeatedly tell the same stories, always smiling, always open, always honest. It was an incredible performance.

One day I asked him how he did it, if it ever got old? Was he sick of reliving his greatest mistakes and explaining himself in every new city? His answer shocked me -- he not only didn't mind doing it, he felt it was vital to his recovery.

"The media," I remember him telling me, "you, the other reporters, the fans -- everyone who hears my story holds me accountable. I want that, I need that."

I thought of that story two years ago when photos of him drinking at a bar in Arizona surfaced and I thought about it again last night when the reports surfaced that he'd relapsed and had a night of drinking. But it hit home when I saw it again today in his press conference. That was the same Josh Hamilton I heard many times, every time sincere, every time fighting his disease and blaming nobody but himself. And again, he said he needed help -- from the media, from the fans, from his family and from anyone who could help him. Addiction is a disease, one that is never cured, but managed. He's managed it well since 2007, but he's not cured and he never will be. But for now, as sad as I was to hear about his relapse, I'm happy to hear he's not only taking responsibility, but he's ready to continue his battle with addiction -- and if he doesn't win it, I hope he's always ahead in the count.

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Since: Aug 20, 2010
Posted on: February 4, 2012 5:09 pm

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Sorry that last comment was in response to redsfan1507!

Since: Aug 20, 2010
Posted on: February 4, 2012 5:07 pm

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

You say he came back (with help) like that's a bad thing. Anyone who knows anything about addiction will tell you that the hardest part is asking for help and/or accepting the help that's given to you. Hamilton's been doing well and I don't think one slip up recently makes him in need of 24-hour surveillance. Recovering addicts DO need people to help and forgive them - the road to recovery is a long one that if taken alone, is almost guaranteed to come to a quick and sad end. So kudos to Hamilton for taking the help offered and admitting he needs the support to succeed!

Since: Aug 20, 2010
Posted on: February 4, 2012 4:57 pm

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Great post. So many people forget that addiction is a disease and vilify those who relapse. Like you, I was sad to hear about Hamilton's latest fall off the wagon. But since his return to baseball he has always come across as genuine and honest when talking about his transgressions, and I've got faith in him that he'll put this latest trip up behind him and continue his road to recovery. Hope he knows that lots of baseball fans (not just Rangers fans) are supporting him! From a Phillies fan who greatly respects Josh Hamilton

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: February 4, 2012 2:30 pm

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Josh may need to hit bottom before he gets better. I hope not but it takes what it takes, and alot of us don't make it.

Since: Apr 4, 2011
Posted on: February 4, 2012 2:17 pm

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

dont be negative if you have no idea how tough it is to have a serious addiction. then put in perspective of also being a multi millionare and a star. people can be so pathetic at times.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2012 11:57 am

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

No, Mr. Rosecrans....actually, the Cubs selected Hamilton in the Rule 5, and the Reds traded chumpchange for the rights to him.

Josh Hamilton has NEVER been responsible for himself. He was a milionaire at 18 as MLB's 1st pick . He was a junkie at 20, and came all the way back (with help) to MLB stardom. It's a story everyone wants to end well...

 He could hire a 24 hour personal security staff to guard him like the President for less than he pays his agent. Why doesn't he ?

Josh Hamilton needs help forgive pat him on the head and tell him he's worth all the trouble. Always has.

No one can help Josh Hamilton except Josh Hamilton. People need to allow him to first realize that, then make him walk the walk.

Josh Hamilton's drama is getting old.       

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: February 4, 2012 8:49 am

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Yes josh your life sucks, your good looking, athletically talented and make millions every year.   I'm sorry if i can no longer have sympathy for people that have so much and decide to throw their lives down the toilet.

Since: Dec 10, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:28 pm

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Well spoken, from someone who probably thinks his life and his behavior looks better through the bottom of a bottle. If MTP1963 doesn't care, maybe he should get in front of a mirror and start.

Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: February 3, 2012 7:47 pm

This guy is playing everyone....

What a circus. Who cares? Drink all you want. 

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