FCA recently sat down with Texas Rangers’ All-Star and 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton to talk about his faith, overcoming addiction and his legacy. The finished video is available at www.fca.org and below, but read on for more great insights from the hard-hitting slugger that didn’t make the final cut in this unedited video transcript.
Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton – Unedited Video Transcript – 9.5.12
FCA: What does the term “second chances” mean to you when you think about your career and your faith?
HAMILTON: As far as my faith goes, I’m continually getting second chances on a daily basis because I’m continuously making mistakes. But to understand that God loves me so much and I’ve done nothing to gain his love or can do nothing to make him not love me is pretty amazing to me. On a daily basis through Christ and that grace he shows me, that second chance is the permanent thing. I don’t try to have to have second chances everyday but that’s just the nature of me. It’s pretty incredible to have tried to do things my way in baseball and it didn’t work out and to really develop a relationship with Jesus and him restore all these things for me so I can now share with people what He’s done in my life. And the second chance I’ve got, I want to use to glorify Him in every way I can.
FCA: From your perspective, why do you feel that people are drawn to you? Or why do you feel they relate to you so much?
HAMILTON: I think they relate to me because I’m real, because I don’t hide my mistakes. I think they can identify with me. Could I have reached people for Christ coming out of high school being that clean cut kid? Absolutely! But how many more people can I reach having tattoos and having addiction problems? Because there’s so much of that in our culture now days and in society. People identify with that and they look at me and that’s why in the book (Beyond Belief) I was as honest as I could possibly be. I didn’t really hold much back because I didn’t want somebody to read it say, “Well he doesn’t know what I’m going through! He’s living the life as an athlete and he might have had some problems drinking or with drugs but he’s not living out of his car or ending up in places where he shouldn’t be with people he doesn’t know and family separated from him.” All the things that happen when you make mistakes with alcohol and drugs and the consequences that come from it… I wanted people to understand that I’ve been there, I went through it, my family went through it and I’m exactly the same as they are. Just because I play a sport doesn’t mean I’m any different than they are.
FCA: If there was one thing that you could share with people that are going through an addiction, what would you share with them?
HAMILTON: One thing I’d share with people who are going through addictions like I have is when you’re in the middle of your addiction you don’t understand how many people you’re hurting. It’s kind of a selfish act or attitude and I didn’t realize it until I’d reached bottom at my grandma’s house. Even though I’ve been told so many times from people who love me, “You’re killing yourself. You’re a better person than this. You can do great things.” God really cleared my head and opened my heart at one moment and allowed me to see that it wasn’t just me that I was affecting, but people around me that I interact with – my parents, my grandmother, my wife, my kids.
FCA: Do you see yourself as a Christian role-model? Did you ever imagine that you would be a Christian role model?
HAMILTON: You can’t ever imagine that you’re going to be a Christian role model if you’ve lived more than half your life not as a Christian. So obviously I didn’t think I would be a Christian role model but the cool thing is people come up and share their stories and the autographs I sign and the reason I spend so much time with fans is because everywhere I go is kind of my mission field right now. I sign autographs, put scripture on balls, pictures, jerseys, whatever the case may be. You’d be amazed to know that little kids and even some adults, when I put Scripture on something they say, “What is that?” I say it’s a verse from the Bible and they say, “What’s the Bible?” And so it’s not just foreign countries or whatever the case may be that don’t know about Jesus or the Bible, its people here in our own country. So that was pretty crazy for me to understand, just the little part you do as far as the way you act, speak, the way you go about your daily life is representing Christ.
FCA: How do you feel like you bring your faith in Jesus Christ out onto the field?
HAMILTON: Very rarely do you see me get upset, maybe once or twice in my career, on the field where people can see me. If the umpire makes a bad call I’m not going to cuss at him or scream at him. I’m not going to throw my bat or break a bat or throw my helmet or things like that. Visually that’s how I can represent Christ. I can play the game hard; have a smile on my face no matter what the circumstances, whether I strike out four times. You see guys a lot of times when they do something good they point up, well why don’t they point up when they do something bad? It doesn’t make sense. So I don’t do any of that showy stuff or whatever. When I hit a home run I run I don’t stand there and watch it.
At home games we have walk out songs, I pick out four songs and I listen to each song and I find a ten-second window in each one that represents what I believe about God and what I believe about Jesus and what He did for me. I have Lecrae, his song, “Boasting,” with Anthony Evans. I have Third Day’s “Trust in Jesus”, Casting Crowns’ “Until The Whole World Hears” and then I have Phillips, Craig and Dean’s “When The Stars Burn Down (Honor and Glory).” I pick out a little spot of what I want people to hear. I’m not playing this so I can hear it, I do it for everybody in the stadium to be a witness to those people.
FCA: What does success mean to you?
HAMILTON: Before the 2008 All Star Game and Home Run Derby I was lying in bed and I was talking to the Lord and I said, “Lord, you know the more successful I am the more people will listen to me talk about You.” And that’s what I’m finding success is. Success for me is not baseball, it’s being a undercover operative as a baseball player, but being an evangelist at the same time. Sharing Christ with as many people as I can. If we win, we win. After the World Series last year, as soon as the last out was made, yeah it stinks we lost but it’s a game. I didn’t go home and cry about it or go in a deep depression for weeks. It was over with! I gave it everything I had – played for an Audience of One. God gave me the ability to play the game so I want to glorify Him however I can and that’s success to me. Whether I strike out four times, whether I don’t do anything to help the team physically but I can give somebody a word of encouragement to go up there and do the best they can, that’s success on the field. But off the field it’s about being a good husband, father and representative of Christ to my family.
FCA: Why do you feel like it’s important for kids to be involved in ministries like FCA and what’s FCA meant to you?
HAMILTON: Athletes are probably the biggest leaders of public schools. So when a kid goes to FCA and sees one of the star athletes there and they’re proclaiming what they believe in about God and who they trust in and that’s Jesus, that sets a precedent and carries down through the hallways. It’s just a way that athletes can get together and talk about what they believe. It’s just a great tool. I’ve seen a lot of kids and I know a lot of grown men now who disciple and go and lead the Huddles. It’s just a cool thing to see how many kids come and they tell their friends and then they come and it just blows up! It’s an awesome thing! Making disciples and understanding that that’s what we’re here to do and what we’re supposed to do.
FCA: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
HAMILTON: I want to be remembered as a man of integrity. Being the same guy all the time. Not being different here at the field around my teammates than at home. Being that same person and understanding that I’m going to make mistakes. Do I try to make mistakes? No. But in the mistakes I make, the way God wants it, is for us to grow closer to Him and ask Him for help in the situation. You can either grow closer to Him or you can get farther away from Him and blame Him for things that are happening.
I want everyone to know what I represent. People call me a hypocrite. I believe in Christ, I believe in my relationship with Him and because I make a mistake doesn’t make me a hypocrite, it makes me human. I want people to understand Who I represent, what I believe in and that’s Jesus and He died for me and He’s connected me to the Father. The veil was torn and I can just sit right here and talk to Jesus if I want to. It’s just a cool thing! I want my kids to understand that who I am at home with them is who I am away from home and vice versa. And I want to show them what little glimpses of Christ and the Father in Heaven as I can. I know it’s going to be a continual process and road, but I want them to say I gave everything I had spiritually, emotionally and hopefully I can do that.
FCA: What has God taught you this season?
HAMILTON: It’s all about being obedient in your walk and if God shares something with you, the Holy Spirit tells you something’s going on and you don’t listen to it, there are consequences for that. When you understand what God the Father is going to treat you like, if you’re a believer and you believe in His Son Christ, then you will be adopted into the family. You’re going to be disciplined, and there are consequences for being disobedient.
The middle two months of the season I had been disobedient on the whole tobacco issue. For a long time I wanted to quit and finally, He gave me warnings and signs. I was driving down the road one day and He was like, “Depend on nothing but Me.” I had tobacco in my mouth so I was like okay, I guess I need to quit, but I didn’t. I go to Spring Training and He starts giving my wife verses in the Old Testament and Deuteronomy about disobedience and obedience. So, I quit in Spring Training, came out of camp, and started dipping again a week before camp was over.
In the first two months of the season I had great success. Then, when we were in San Diego, God woke me up at six in the morning. I got up, and put a dip in. He said, “When you stop chewing tobacco you’ll be more sensitive to hearing me.” I woke up the next day, and the first thing I did was put a dip in. For the first time in my life, I felt my talent had completely been taken from me. I went 0-5 with four strike-outs, just looked bad and felt bad. I felt like I didn’t have a clue. I got home that night and started talking to my wife. I told her what was going on, and I prayed about it. I started dipping again.
My wife said, “In spring training, God gave me the verses in Deuteronomy about obedience and disobedience. Well, the first two months of the season this is what it can be and what you’re going through right now, this is what it’s going to be until you become obedient.”
The next day I saw a pastor friend of mine, and not knowing about the tobacco issue, he gave me a of couple stories. He said, “Now, when I was young the Lord told me I was going to speak in front of large crowds. When I was 18 years old I was always nervous and shaking before I would go up speak. When I would get up, I would get this feeling just surround me, the Holy Spirit or whatever, and I would go up and just preach the Word. I got up one night and didn’t have that feeling. I went up, and stumbled through the sermon. I gave the invitation and only a couple people came up. Afterwards, I asked the Lord what happened. The Lord told me, ‘Don’t ever depend on a feeling to get people to come to me.’”
As soon as he told me that, it flashed back in my mind when He said, “depend on nothing but me.” And I finally got it. When you understand there’s something keeping you from a relationship with God and how it needs to be, there’s something blocking the communication there, and you truly feel it in your heart; you don’t think about it. God takes it away and gives you strength to move forward through it; you don’t think about it. And I hadn’t really thought about it since I said, “Alright Lord, I get it.”
For more on Josh Hamilton from FCA check out the following links:
Josh Hamilton FCA Video (Oct. 2012): http://fcaresources.com/video/fca-interview-texas-rangers-all-star-josh-hamilton
Josh Hamilton Video Devotionals (Oct. 2012):
FCA Magazine Poster (Oct. 2008): http://fcaresources.com/wallpaper/josh-hamilton
FCA Magazine Story (Oct. 2008): http://bit.ly/VCvl9H
Josh Hamilton Faith and Family Night Testimony Video (Aug. 2012): http://youtu.be/u2KOlA6tjvo
Josh Hamilton 2012 MLB All-Star Game Why Play? Video (July 2012): http://youtu.be/97NkArreWLo