He was basically the most talented player the year he was drafted. Josh Hamilton, the first overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft, went to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. For those who don't know his story, his success may seem obvious. He went in as the first pick and is playing Major League Baseball; so what? But Hamilton is lucky to be alive today, much less still playing the game he loves.
Considered a "blue chip" player, Hamilton was someone who could - and should have - made an immediate, lasting impact on their team. Unfortunately for Hamilton, this straight-laced, never-had-a-drink-or-drug-before kid from North Carolina ended up at a tattoo parlor one night with a group of guys that helped lead him astray. From 2001 - 2004, Hamilton couldn't quite get things together for himself. He played for various Minor League teams and put up numbers unlikely for a "blue chip" player.
Heading in to 2004, he'd hoped to start spring training camp with the Devil Rays, but was suspended for violating the MLB drug policy. Hamilton did not play baseball at all from 2004 - 2006. Without baseball, he spent his time living from one hit to the next, the life of a "crack addict," as he has said.
After finding a renewed faith, Hamilton has stayed clean and led his life; through Christ. He has become a very spiritual man and does not shy away from his past -- he will tell his story to anyone to will listen in hopes of making an impact and positively changing someone else's life.
Today, as a beloved Texas Rangers outfielder, Hamilton still dons the 26 tattoos he had inked during his drug-addict days. He displays them as a visual reminder to himself of where he's been, and where doesn't want to return. He displays them as a visual reminder to others of how he is proof that "hope is never lost."