Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said Wednesday that he’s committed to figuring out why he had another alcohol relapse and is undergoing what he called a “Josh Hamilton makeover.”
Hamilton appeared on “Glenn Beck” on GBTV.com with guest host Dr. James Robison, Hamilton’s pastor with LIFE Outreach, a Christian ministry based in Euless, Texas.
The slugger, who told Robison he’s going to “one-on-one” counseling sessions, said when he had his last relapse, in January 2009 in Tempe, Ariz., that he thought things would be fine and that he’d get on with his life.
“This time it’s not just, ‘OK, it happened, we’ll move past it and maybe it won’t happen again,'” said Hamilton, who said he’s also attending counseling sessions with his wife, Katie. “We want to find out why it continues to happen. Whether it’s things in my life — stress, home things, whatever the case — those things might be a trigger.”
A little more than two weeks ago, Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol at two Dallas-area establishments. At a 12-minute unscripted news conference Feb. 3, Hamilton called it a “moment of weakness” and apologized to his family, teammates and fans.
On Wednesday, in his first one-on-one interview since the incident occurred, Hamilton didn’t get into specifics, saying only that he’s committed to becoming a better husband and father. He said he’s “excited” by his progression in the time since the incident occurred, adding that there’s been more “meaningful” communication in his house the past few weeks than there had been the previous eight years.
“So much good work has been done,” Hamilton said. “My wife is already saying: ‘Who are you?’ Not that I was a bad person before, but the communication wasn’t there. It was easy for me to retreat and shut down completely when I got home. I battled it.
“I was looking at my girls and thinking how beautiful they are and how much I love them, but it wouldn’t come out. I was looking at my wife and thinking that she’s awesome and I love her so much and she’s so beautiful and it wouldn’t come out. But it comes out to everybody else — strangers on the street, people at the ballpark, people on my team.”
Hamilton said he’s working on “digging deeper” and is using his faith to try to do that.
“It’s going to be a process,” Hamilton said. “I’m not fixed. I’m doing things right a day at a time. I want people to know that I love them and to keep praying for me.”
Hamilton, who will make $13.75 million this season, is in the final year of his contract, but both sides decided to table those discussions and allow Hamilton to focus on his health. It’s unlikely contract talks will resume before spring training begins, which is the deadline Hamilton and the Rangers agreed to during the offseason.
Since his recent news conference, Hamilton has flown to New York to see two doctors — one with MLB and the other with the MLBPA — and is expected to arrive at spring training in the next week, though the first official workout for position players isn’t until Feb. 26. The Rangers have also hired Shayne Kelley as a staff assistant whose primary role is to support Hamilton. Kelley will be traveling with the team and was with Hamilton when he went to New York early last week.
“I do have an accountability partner,” Hamilton said. “I was watching a special on Billy Graham and he always had at least one person with him, most times it was four or five. They’re not babysitters. They’re somebody that love you, want the best for you and want to see you succeed and put you in the best position to do that.”
Hamilton talked about his wife, saying she has “carried the load” in the marriage and that it was time he stepped up.
“I’m taking steps to get rid of baggage and memories and things I’ve held onto my entire life that are causing me to act a certain way in my relationship at home with my wife and kids,” Hamilton said. “They are holding me back. The last week and a half, I’ve looked at my kids differently. I’ve had more patience. I’ve wanted to be with them as much as possible.”
Hamilton also had a message for fans near the end of the interview.
“Thank you to everyone who’s supported me,” Hamilton said. “I’m going to do everything I can to break these walls down and become a better man, a better role model, somebody your little ones can look to and strive to be like one day.”
Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, has battled drug and alcohol addiction for years. That addiction delayed his debut in the majors until 2007. He has said that he did not use drugs during his most recent relapse and that he continues to get tested three times a week.
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.