DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Josh Hamilton is best known for hitting homeruns at Rangers Stadium in front of screaming sports fans. Sunday morning, however, he traded in his baseball uniform for a suit and addressed the congregation at First Baptist Dallas.
“The season was unbelievable,” he told the congregation.
However, Hamilton came close to missing out on all of that success. An addiction to drugs and alcohol nearly ended his career.
Hamilton was drafted by Tampa Bay straight out of high school. In 2001, he was injured in a car accident and couldn’t play baseball. He had too much free time and began hanging out at tattoo parlors, he said.
“I got invited out with the guys from the tattoo parlor and the first night I had a drink was the first night I did a line of cocaine. Worst decision I ever made,” he said.
Hamilton burned through his nearly $4 million signing bonus. He was in and out of rehab. Eventually, Major League Baseball suspended him.
He told the congregation he knew he hit rock bottom when he went to his grandmother for help. He came to her door, weighing only 180 pounds.
Hamilton said he had a revelation, and re-discovered his faith.
“They always ask the question, how can you explain what you’ve done and how you got back where you are? And my relationship with Jesus Christ has answered that question,” he said.
Hamilton returned to the game in 2006 and began his comeback.
Hamilton told the congregation that he stays sober by living a strict lifestyle. He doesn’t carry cash or credit cards, and rarely goes out with teammates. He also surrounds himself with people who won’t take advantage of him or hurt him. And, he follows a set of priorities.
“It’s God first, humility, family, sobriety and baseball,” he said.
Hamilton famously skipped out on the champagne-laden celebration, after the Rangers won the series against Tampa Bay. After they defeated New York, his teammates showered him with ginger ale.
Hamilton said he still feels tempted by drugs and alcohol, and spoke about his well-publicized relapse in 2009. He told the congregation that he works everyday to overcome his addiction, and looks to God for strength.
“I can’t do it on my own. I need God every step of the way and Jesus every step of the way,” he said.