Hamilton, Josh, and Tim Keown. Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back. New York: Faith Words, 2008. Print.
WOW! This was an awesome read! I didn't want to finish reading, and yet when I did finish, I felt this urge to write to Josh Hamilton and encourage him. Hamilton is very honest about his addictions to both tattoos and drugs. He doesn't blame anyone but himself for the downward spiral his life took after signing on the the "Big Leagues" in baseball. I was surprised to learn that Josh was a baseball phenom (the opening chapter talks about his skills from the early age of 6 when he played with 11 year old kids). I also didn't know that Hamilton could pitch, but he chose the outfield to ensure that he could play every day instead of being on a rotation.
I knew I liked Josh Hamilton the first time I saw him play. Reading this made me like him more. I feel like I have the "back story" of who this great baseball player really is. He is humble and his teammates respect him. I got goosebumps on my arms when I read the chapter where his Texas Rangers teammates (Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Hank Blalock) came to listen to his press conference--to hear his story. The team, to me, seems like a family and they play well together. However, I also know by reading this part of the story, they are more connected than just on the field. They really care for one another.
The book was published in 2008, and since then, Josh had a drinking relapse. The media crucified him and there were questions of whether or not the Rangers would keep him on the team. I can understand how it happened, but I don't know why the Rangers would even consider cutting him from the team. Contract negotiations are happening this year, and I hope the Rangers will keep Josh. Every day is a struggle and a triumph.
Another thing I kept thinking about while reading this was Shannon Stone. Last season (2011), Shannon and his son were at a game, and Hamilton tossed up a ball to them. Shannon fell over the rail trying to get the ball and ended up dying. [On a side note, Shannon's wife Jenny and I worked at Winn Dixie together many years ago]. As I read Beyond Belief, I thought about the Stone Family. I thought about Josh's faith and what he must think each time he goes outfield. I thought about how God has carried him through so many trials. Josh truly gives God the credit for his recovery. His mantra is James 4:7 "Humble yourself before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
I wish Josh the best!