Forgiving Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is an alcoholic. That is neither an insult, nor a joke. It’s just an unfortunate fact.

According to a Dallas Morning News report, Hamilton was publicly seen drinking alcohol on Monday night at Sherlock’s in Dallas. This was his second reported relapse in three years since joining the Rangers.

After hearing the news, I could only manage a fleeting concern for the Rangers before the sadness of the situation set in. I personally don’t believe there is such a thing as a “recovering” alcoholic, and I don’t blame Hamilton for losing a battle or two in his lifelong war. I think alcoholism is a disease from which nobody ever fully recovers.

If this was, in fact, just Hamilton’s second relapse in three years, he’s doing a great job. I just worry that there have been many more setbacks that have gone unreported.

I know a little something about this. Just under five years ago, my mother unexpectedly died of alcoholism. While it took the medical examiner a few weeks to technically conclude that her cause of death was a “fatty metamorphosis of the liver”, I knew what happened as soon as I got the call.

She had previously tried to get help. She didn’t want a life plagued by alcoholism. She saw the effect it had and the hardship that it brought about. Unlike the unaffected, she didn’t view alcohol as fun and games, and she would have traded every future sip for an absence of thirst, had it been possible. The weight of alcohol’s burden on her life, combined with the collateral damage it had caused, only made her existence harder and more depressing. In the end, she just couldn’t beat it.

Josh has a wife, kids, teammates, and millions of fans to whom he feels responsible, and possibly guilty. It’s possible that the scorn of the latter will only make things harder on Hamilton and those close to him. Tough-love works for some people. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes, it only makes things tougher.

I truly hope that both fans and the media can be supportive and understanding. While my mother had to live with the monumental guilt of letting her family down, she never had to live with ESPN headlines, pictures shared through social media, and the disappointment of millions. The best medicine we can give Hamilton and his family is support and forgiveness, and we should resist any temptation to contribute anything else.