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109 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2008
I just finished reading "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back."

Now, I know what you're probably thinking here; and, it's "How can someone who is just 27-years old author their biography?" Or, [if you know me] maybe it's "Aren't you a little old to be reading baseball `puff piece' books?" Then again, maybe you're thinking both of these things?

Well, let me tell you..."Beyond Belief" may only cover the first 27 years of Hamilton's life. However, there's a very interesting story to tell within those first 27 years. And, trust me, this book is far from being a `puff piece.'

As I was reading Hamilton's story, all I could think about was "Wow. This is `The Natural' - just like the movie. Except, as entertaining as that movie was, the story seemed too far-fetched to be true...and, now, here's the same story...and it's all true!"

First, some background on Hamilton. When he was six-years old, Josh was playing on youth baseball teams for boys between the ages of eleven and twelve. Picture that...a 6-year old playing against 12-year olds. And, regardless of that age gap, he was one of the best players on the field during the games. Hamilton's talent, even at that young age, was off-the-charts.

And, Josh Hamilton's talent never fell back to the pack. Related, he was the first overall pick in Major League Baseball's 1999 Amateur Player Draft - at the age of 18. At that time, Josh was considered as being as good as Alex Rodriguez was at the same age.

However, in 2001, when he was just 20-years old, Hamilton - who, up until this time, was a squeaky-clean All-American boy in an Opie Taylor type way - started abusing alcohol and using illegal drugs. And, his habits became so bad that he became low-life crack addict...hitting absolute rock-bottom. In the process, he nearly destroyed the lives of several loving family members and threw away millions of dollars.

And, we're not talking about a blip on the radar here. Josh Hamilton's slide towards destruction was a five year journey through hell. During this time, he went through eight different drug treatment and rehabiliation centers.

We've seen stories like this in baseball before...names like Rod Scurry, Steve Howe and Ken Caminiti come to mind...and many times they have ended in tragedy. Yet, through his faith, Hamilton was able to gain control of his life...and get back into baseball as a 25-year old (in 2006) and bring his career to the point where he was the highlight of the Homerun Derby at the 2008 big league All-Star Game.

But, forget the baseball-side of the Josh Hamiliton story. And, just focus on the "person" angle here...as that's what's so riveting when you're reading "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back."

This book tells the story of a great talent - perhaps one of the greatest talents ever - falling so low, and out of control, to where the talent is wasted and its host becomes one of the dregs of society. And, once at the bottom, there are years of struggle to become whole again...with repeated rounds ending in failure after failure. And, then, finally, there's redemption. But, it's tempered with the fact that there's no guarantee of permanence - and that everyday is a new battle. Yet, on the flipside, everyday is also a chance to use lessons-learned to help others.

Human nature being what it is, "these types of stories" just resonate well with us...and Josh Hamilton's story is one of the best out there...in terms of "these types of stories."

I would recommend "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back" to anyone who wants to read a great, true, and inspirational tale - regardless of whether or not they're a baseball fan. I was very happy to read Hamilton's book. It's extremely well done.

This one connects - and it goes a long way.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2009
Beyond Belief: The Josh Hamilton Story

I had never heard of Josh Hamilton until the Home Run Derby last year. His massive swings of the bat hit a record number of baseballs of the fence and the name Josh Hamilton found its way into the homes of baseball fans across the country! Even though the Home Run Derby set Josh Hamilton apart, there is a better story behind the man.

Beyond Belief is a thrilling story of a man seeking to find peace and grace in the eyes of God. His journey from a highly touted High School baseball prospect to a drugged out- tattooed-trouble soul is clearly projected in the words of Josh Hamilton. Even the places and people are brought to life through the story of Mr. Hamilton's rise and fall then his rise again.

Josh Hamilton could be called the "Prodigal Son" of baseball. His life as headed for the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mi, until a fateful day when he allowed the troubles of the world to infect his life. His parents struggled with their child as they saw his troubles and his bank account quickly dwindling because of addiction. His wife struggled through the years, but she kept hope in this North Carolina baseball star. Young children had looked up to him, his drug habits caused young people to read his suspensions, and slowly his name was fading from the books.

One day, his life was going to change. The ways and ideals he had grown up believing were coming back...but how long would it take? His family was behind him and his wife was praying...then the day came! The crack of the bat felt the way it used to and the story was changing. He looked at his wife, saw her face and he knew he was back!

Josh Hamilton's story is an amazing one and every year it seems to get better. His life is becoming whole with the grace of God and he is still seeking the presence of the Savior. Beyond Belief is an excellent book for baseball fans and anyone who has a passing interest in reading true stories of the possible!

Take a moment and enjoy the story of Josh Hamilton. When you are done you will say, "Yes, it is Beyond Belief."

A special thanks to Faith Words for allowing me to have a copy of this book. Also thanks to my brother Aaron, who stood hours in a line at Barnes and Noble to meet Josh Hamilton and get my book signed.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2008
This was a fabulous book that I had a hard time putting down. I knew most of the story, from magazine articles, but I had missed the religious component of the tale. I could even recommend this to a men's bible study.

It was awful that so many people misunderstood the relationship between Josh and his parents. How numerous rehabs could blame his parents for Josh's addiction amazed me.

He was and is a prodigy. That was a big part of his problem. No one seemed to realize that and MLB wanted him to fit into a cookie cutter experience. He couldn't do that.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2008
When Josh Hamilton was six-years-old he could throw a baseball FIFTY-MILES-PER-HOUR... when he was eleven-years-old he could throw a baseball SEVENTY-MILES-PER-HOUR... when he was twelve-years-old in Little League in one game he batted five times... and FIVE TIMES HE HIT A HOMERUN... in his senior year in high school... he threw a baseball NINETY-SEVEN-MILES-PER-HOUR... and batted SIX-HUNDRED... upon graduating high school in 1999 Josh was the NUMBER-ONE-DRAFT-CHOICE in the Major Leagues... he signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and received a record *$3,960,000.00 signing bonus... he was the minor league MVP... and consensus choice as the BEST PROSPECT IN BASEBALL...

AND THEN IT ALL WENT WRONG... AND IT WENT WRONG FAST! Josh came from a close knit family in North Carolina and the entire family's life was built around baseball. Josh was the proverbial "ALL-AMERICAN-BOY". He had a dream that he would sign a rich Major League baseball contract and reward his parents for coming to every game he ever played and driving him where ever he needed to go. He said when he signed his dream contract he would pay off all his parents' bills and buy them a house, so they could travel with him all over the United States and see him play. He signed the dream contract... he paid off their bills... they traveled with him to his minor league games. He kissed his Mother on the cheek in front of his teammates before every game. The other players... and then management and ownership... thought it was a little strange having a young ballplayer's parents traveling with him, and made him stay in other lodging. Then Josh started getting a number of injuries, some obvious, some possibly imagined. For the first time in his life he couldn't play baseball, and he was away from his parents.

All of a sudden milk-toast clean Josh showed up with a tattoo... then he decided he wanted five more tattoos. As his injuries mounted he started spending more and more time at the tattoo parlor... with his parents gone... it became his home away from home. "I SAT IN THE CHAIR AND GOT TATTOO AFTER TATTOO. SOME DAYS I'D GET THREE OR FOUR. SOME DAYS I'D SIT IN THAT CHAIR ALL DAY LONG, FEELING THE NEEDLES MARK UP MY BODY." And then the fateful day came when his "friends" asked Josh if he wanted to go out with them that evening. Josh said yes... and his life... his world... and the world of everyone that loved him changed... his life changed from a dream to a nightmare. Their first stop was a strip club... something Josh had never done before... then they ordered some beer... Josh drank one, "something I'd never done before. And then I drank several more." Then they went to one of his "friends" house... "SOMEONE PULLED OUT A MIRROR AND BEGAN TO CUT UP SOME COCAINE. SOMEWHERE INSIDE ME AN ALARM WENT OFF, BUT I IGNORED IT. I ASKED THEM, "WHAT IS IT?" "I KNEW, BUT I'D NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE." "IT'S COCAINE, MAN." "WHAT'S IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE?" "IT MAKES YOU FEEL JACKED UP. TRY IT, YOU'LL SEE." "I STARED AT IT. I WAS WEAK. I COULDN'T IMAGINE LETTING THESE GUYS DOWN. THEY HAD BECOME THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MY WORLD. OR MAYBE I JUST DIDN'T CARE. WHATEVER THE CASE, I WAS IN. I LEANED OVER AND INHALED A LINE. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT, BUT BY THE TIME I'D LIFTED MY HEAD UP I KNEW I LIKED IT. THE FOG IN MY BRAIN LIFTED. I HAD ENERGY AND LIFE. I WAS A NEW MAN."

From this point on... this is a book about something much more important than baseball. Josh became lost to the world, and more importantly to himself. He bottomed out to where all addicts either straighten themselves out and give in to a power greater than themselves... or... THEY ALL WIND UP THE SAME... JAILS... INSTITUTIONS... AND DEATH! About fifteen years ago my best friend in the world hung out one night with the wrong crowd... just like Josh did... my best friend made the same decision Josh did... the tale Josh tells when he threw baseball away for a trip to the living hell- on-earth that addicts inhabit is exactly the same road map my best friend took. The fact that Josh started with a $3.96 million dollar contract, and my best friend was just a "working-stiff" made no difference. DRUG HELL IS DRUG HELL!

I congratulate Josh on this book even more than I congratulate him on his comeback to fame and sobriety. I have read many other books by famous ballplayers and entertainers who tell their story of addiction... but literally all of them make the getting high and loaded sound like an exciting orgy of drugs and women... rather than the debauchery of a human soul and the destruction of their loved ones hearts. There is not one segment in Josh's descent into drug addiction that he tries to make glamorous... and for that I applaud him. THE BRUTAL "UNVARNISHED" POWER OF THIS BOOK RESIDES IN ITS UGLY TRUTH... And because of that I recommend this book highly to everyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2009
the story of Josh Hamilton has been well publicized, but reading his first hand account of what he went through and how he is still here today is amazing.

think about this...

-Hamilton was considered the best high school baseball player ever[...]
-he beat Jose Canseco in home run derby as an 18 year old kid fresh out of the draft
-Hamilton got involved in drugs when he started hanging out with the people at the tattoo shop

Hamilton's drug use became so extensive, he knew the tips and tricks to get a fixed high. He blew his entire bonus on drugs, left his wife who had just given birth to go and get high (she sent him to the drug store), would wake up in homes surrounded by complete strangers, and at one point, even gave up his wife's wedding ring to score drugs.

Hamilton was on the very brink of losing everything, but as he says over and over, he gave up his life to the Lord, and that changed everything.

His grandma took him in and through Christ, she helped nurture Josh back into good health both spiritually, physcially, and mentally.

through the Lord, Hamilton slowly got back into baseball, one day at a time, until he finally got the call he hoped for so long, the call that Hamilton was back in baseball.

MLB lifted their suspension and rather than work his way through the minors, Hamilton started with the Reds, making the opening day roster.

Think about this....Hamilton went almost 3 years without any baseball or minor league experience, from the suspension list, through the drug use, 8 different rehab centers, to letting go and finding Christ, straight to the Pros.

you could not write a movie script as corny as that, yet it happened to Josh Hamilton, living proof that letting go and having faith, anything was possible.

The Hamilton story is much more than about baseball, it's about life and having faith in Christ. It's an amazing story for any baseball fan, or anybody who wants some real life inspiration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2008
How many ballplayers have an autobiorgraphy out, even though they've played less than two years of Major League Baseball? Just Josh Hamilton, as far as I know....and it's justified. He has a pretty unique story.

Hamilton became a nationwide sports "celebrity" in July of 2008 after putting on an incredible display of power hitting at the MLB's "Home Run Derby" at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium. Suddenly, the rest of the baseball world wanted to hear his story, so here is his autobiography.
Suffice to say,it's not a pretty one but at least he's honest.

Josh had everything, including the world of baseball right where he wanted it, but ruined his life and almost killed himself with drugs, only to rise from ashes and be the star he is right now. This is a human interest story, an inspiring story, not a baseball book.

Hamilton pulls no punches and takes the blame for his actions. In today's world, that's refreshing. This book is almost like one, long confession, but it's also meant to inspire others who feel there is no way they can beat their drug addiction. Included here is his relationship with Jesus Christ and how that helped him clean up his act. For those wary of being preached to, that's not what this book is. Hamilton is also clear about that, too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2009
Talk about inspirational you don't have to go any further than this book right here. Josh Hamilton's life has had so many ups and yet at the same time so many downs. Josh is the true story was it doesn't matter how far down you are in your life if you put your mind to the task at hand you can accomplish it. Josh was actually a good kid growing up and how he became a great baseball player was disciplining himself to not go out use drugs and alcohol like most of his friends did. He even went as far to not go to his senior prom because he did not want to get mixed up in activity afterwards that might affect his draft status. That takes true determination to discipline yourself like that. For all joshes hard work it paid off as he was drafted by the devil rays in the first round with the first pick. Unfortunately lots of injuries put Josh on the shelf for a lot of baseball time that it eventually drove him to use drugs for the first time. He states the first time he used coke it was a high he never experienced and he was hooked. As bad as drugs are he is being totally honest with that statement. He reached the lowest point in his life but thanks to the help of his grandmother and god he was able to pull out of it. I was so glad for Josh especially when I saw him in the 2008 homerun derby and he put on a performance of a lifetime. Josh shows you what true determinate is. I truly believe if Josh would have been able to avoid injuries and eventually using drugs to relieve the pain he would be an all star in this league and maybe become one of the best ever. I know that may be a little too much but a guy that can come back after 3 years away from major league baseball almost win the homerun derby and have a great season with the reds and Texas rangers you know he's got talent. Josh Hamilton should be an inspiration for all of us and it proves no matter how doubtful something looks you can accomplish it if you put your mind to it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2011
This is not the best written book or even the best story. It has some repitition and sometimes wanders. I love the story though. It is heartfelt and tough. It is worth reading, especially if you are a Josh fan like me.-Greg Tunnell
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2013
I purchased this book with the expectation that this book was about Mr. Hamilton's faith in God and how that faith and God himself helped Josh through a very difficult time. What I came away with was how great Josh is not God. Maybe I read it wrong? Expectations too high? I don't know.

It's not a bad book, just lacking somewhat. This book is a short read, but unfortunately it reads like an eighth grader wrote it. I can get past that though, not everyone has a degree in creative writing. This book, to me, was more about Josh Hamilton rather than God. There are mentions of God in the book, but it seemed to me the book pointed towards Josh rather than God. Still I believe this book can help countless others, which is why I gave it three stars. It can give hope to others that are struggling with addictions.

I do think he should have held off writing this book for a few years. Since this book was published Josh has had two relapses with alcohol. That in and of itself is understandable, people relapse. The part that is mind boggling is both times he cheated on his wife. In my opinion, this has damaged his witness terribly, if not totally ruined it. It definitely calls his character into question.

All in all, it is an okay book. I would have liked to have seen more of his heart, though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2008
Incredible story that I could not stop reading. This book will be an inspiration to anyone who picks it up. Josh is a rare commodity in baseball, not just because he has "Mickey Mantle talent," but also because he is not afraid to put himself out there for all the world to see and judge. Hopefully there will be people who read this book and realize that if Josh can fight his way back from the hell he lived, they can too, or even better...maybe by reading this book the reader will learn from Josh's mistakes without making the same ones he made.
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