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Hamilton: Suspension led him to sobriety

By JOHN ROMANO
Published June 9, 2004

Devil Rays prospect Josh Hamilton is in a rehabilitation center in Tampa and is hopeful his yearlong ban from baseball will be lifted early, according to an interview in ESPN The Magazine.

Hamilton, who for the first time acknowledges a cocaine problem, said his latest suspension helped steer him toward sobriety.

"A light went on in my head," Hamilton said. "I don't know if it was God or whatever, but it just came to me. It's about time I did this for myself."

According to the magazine, Hamilton has been in six drug treatment programs.

Hamilton said his problems began shortly after an automobile accident during spring training in 2001.

Hamilton was sidelined with a back injury after the accident and spent most of his time at a tattoo parlor near his Bradenton home. His parents, who had been a constant presence in his life, had moved back to North Carolina.

"People say I was rebelling against my parents. That's not true," Hamilton said. "If my parents had been with me, none of this would have happened. I needed something, and I looked in the wrong place."

Hamilton's latest turn in a treatment center is due to end next week. The magazine said his family is hopeful his suspension, which runs through March 2005, can be cut short.

[Last modified June 9, 2004, 01:10:02]

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