JOSH HAMILTON: How The Former Can't Miss Prospect Overcame Drug Addiction To Become Baseball's Biggest Superstar

Josh Hamilton story

Photo: Getty Images/Ezra Shaw

Josh Hamilton is tearing the cover off the baseball this year.His numbers on the season are off the charts: his batting average is above .400, he has 18 home runs and 45 RBI, and an OPS around 1.300.

They reached those gargantuan levels after a recent six-game span that included 9 home runs, with a record-tying four of them coming in a single game.

Hamilton was supposed to be winning MVP awards and leading his team to the World Series as a member of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but numerous off-the-field issues derailed him.

Now he’s back to playing at a high level for the Texas Rangers and on the cusp of not only breaking records, but signing a fat new contract when he hits free agency this winter.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays drafted Josh Hamilton out of high school first overall in 1999, giving him a then record signing bonus of $3.96 million

Source: Baseball Reference and WaPo

The expansion Devil Rays were quickly encouraged by Hamilton's minor league success and were looking forward to having their first bona fide star

But Hamilton started drinking heavily and using cocaine in 2001 at the age of 20

Source: WaPo

As his drug use continued, Hamilton started getting a bunch of tattoos. He admits he doesn't remember the meaning behind many of them because he got them while he was high

Source: WaPo

Hamilton still performed well to start out the 2002 season in the Devil Rays' minor leagues, but sat out most of the season with injuries

After failed drug tests, suspensions, rehab stints, and relapses, Hamilton was out of baseball the next four years

Source: Baseball Reference and WaPo

Source: WaPo

Clean and sober, Hamilton came back to the Devil Rays at the end of the 2006 season, before being left off the 40-man roster and thus snatched up by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007

Hamilton finally made his MLB debut on April 2, 2007 with the Reds, eight years after being drafted. He was given a 22-second standing ovation when he came to the plate

Source: ESPN

Hamilton had a big rookie season as an outfielder for the Reds (.292 AVG, 19 HR, 43 RBI), but lost out to Rookie of the Year honours because of his many disabled list stints

But Cincinnati needed young pitchers so Hamilton was sent to the Texas Rangers for a couple of minor league prospects after the 2007 season

Source: SI

Hamilton tore it up with Texas in 2008 (.304, 32 HR, 130 RBI) becoming an All-Star game starter and finishing seventh in American League MVP voting

His 2008 breakout also included a ridiculous display of power at the Home Run Derby, which he lost despite belting 35 total long balls

Source: MLB

After an injury-plagued 2009, Hamilton returned in 2010 and won the MVP award. The Rangers would go on to lose the World Series to the San Francisco Giants that year

Hamilton suffered two more relapses in 2009 and early 2012, in both situations he publicly apologized to his family, MLB, teammates, and fans about it

Source: Deadspin and ESPN

In July of 2011, Hamilton threw a ball to a fan in the stands in Texas. The fan tragically fell to his death reaching for the ball in order to give it to his son. Hamilton was said to be very distraught afterward

Source: ESPN

Hamilton became a household name outside the baseball world when he crushed four home runs in a single game on May 9, 2012

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Hamilton is now on pace to shatter Barry Bonds' single-season home run record in 2012. His past demons means he still has to provide three urine samples a week to MLB, though

Source: ESPN and NYT

Now meet the teenage phenom hoping to reach his enormous potential sooner than Hamilton did

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