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Can an Addict Save the LA Angels?

By McCarton Ackerman 02/05/13

The MLB team hedges its bets on Josh Hamilton, a star player with a history of addiction.

Josh Hamilton is back in the game. Photo via

Josh Hamilton, the Los Angeles Angels' new right fielder and cleanup batter is a "high-risk, high-reward investment" for the major league baseball team, says the LA Times. In December, he signed a five-year, $125 million contract, with expectations that his strengths could save the Angels from a three-year playoff draught. But Hamilton brings a risk to the table as well, due to his long history with addiction that once got him banned from baseball for three full seasons. Just seven years ago, he had lost 50 pounds and squandered most of his $3.96-million signing bonus on booze and drugs. "Drugs had destroyed my body and my mind and my spirit. I could no longer experience happiness or surprise. I couldn't remember the last time I felt spontaneous joy. Why was I even alive?" the player recounts in his 2010 autobiography, Beyond Belief. Hamilton tells the Times he had his "moment of surrender" when his grandmother threatened to kick him out of the house. "Emotionally, spiritually, physically, I felt hopeless," he recalls. "But when you feel the most hopeless, you're the most willing to do whatever it takes." He would go on to become a five-time all-star and 2010 American League MVP with the Texas Rangers. And despite two alcohol relapses, one in 2009 and another in January 2012, Hamilton has remained committed to cleaning up his life. He is now tested for drugs three times per week and travels with an "accountability partner" whose sole job is to help him stay sober. A movie about his life is currently in the works, directed and written by Casey Affleck. "It's set up pretty good," says Hamilton. "And the story is not close to being over."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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