Earlier today Will Brinson wrote a thoughtful piece about why we should ease back our discussion of Josh Hamilton the former drug addict and just focus on the fact that he's a terrific baseball player. It's a very strong point, especially when we'll be facing a steady dose of his comeback tale during tonight's All-Star Game.
If there's a reason why Hamilton's redemption should never fall too far from the public eye, though, it's because of the inspiration it may bring to others struggling with addiction. People like Jeff Allison, the 2003 first round pick of the Florida Marlins. Like Hamilton, Allison's baseball future was brighter than the sun and, like Hamilton, it has dimmed because of drug use. Allison is sober now and trying to follow in Hamilton's footsteps.
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"He has inspired me. I sometimes get emotional when I just talk about Josh Hamilton. The things he's doing now versus the things he used to do, to choose life over what he did, is unbelievable. I know what he went through."
After missing the past two seasons, Allison is pitching for Single-A Jupiter and is 5-7 with a 4.39 ERA. Unspectacular numbers for a 23-year old in the Florida State League, although he did make the All-Star Game for that level, but the numbers are only part of the story.
Just as they are for Hamilton. He has shown people like Allison that there is a road back from addiction. Even if the road doesn't lead to Yankee Stadium and the All-Star Game, it's a road worth traveling.