“…to truly understand how amazing of a season, and two-year career, that Josh Hamilton is having, you have to understand where he came from. Hamilton was the first-overall draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1999, but he didn’t make his major-league debut until 2007.
Why did it take so long? What happened to delay the major-league debut of 1999’s USA Baseball’s Amateur Player of the Year and Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year?
In his first two professional seasons, Josh received accolade after accolade; he seemed to be everyone’s top prospect. But an injury in August 2000 ended his season early, which was followed by a motorcycle injury six months later that lead to an eventual DL stint that lasted until late June.
Shortly after returning from that injury, Josh suffered a season-ending injury. Then in 2002, his season seemed over before it even got started, with more injuries, and again in 2003, bringing his total of missed games in a three-year span to about 236.
With all of this free time on his hands, not being able to play the game that he loves, Josh found himself hanging out with the wrong crowd. He would spend his time and money at local tattoo parlors, decorating his body with 32 images of whatever seemed intriguing at the time. This led directly to Josh’s drinking problems and addiction to drugs.
Josh tested positive for substance abuse, and was suspended from baseball and put into a treatment program. But he received his worst news to date in February 2004, when he was banned indefinitely from baseball for violating the league’s joint drug treatment and prevention program. This only led to Josh falling deeper and deeper into what he described later as the hellhole he lived in. …”
To Hell and Back: The Josh Hamilton Story | Bleacher Report