Josh Hamilton has been open about his demons. He's been a drug addict. He's been an alcoholic. He almost wasted away all of his incredible talent while adding a horde of tattoos and partying deep into the night.
But after finally getting sober, Hamilton was able to make an incredible comeback. He went from the forgotten former No. 1 draft pick to one of the most popular players in the league.
All of this makes Thursday night's tragedy at Rangers Ballpark even more difficult to see happen. Shannon Stone, a 39-year old Rangers fan, called out for Hamilton to throw him a foul ball. Hamilton obliged but threw the ball short, resulting in Stone leaning over to catch it and eventually falling to his death.
Stone, an 18-year firefighter veteran, was trying to catch the ball for his son sitting right next to him. Hamilton was said to be very distraught after watching Stone fall to his death and walked around in circles in disbelief to what happened.
Hamilton has done well at getting his life back on track. Most stories show he is a good father to his three daughters and he has excelled on the field, winning American League MVP honors in 2010.
Continue Reading Below
But how does a man with past demons as strong as Hamilton's, react to such a traumatic event? Will Hamilton be able to sleep at night knowing he indirectly caused the premature death of a Texas firefighter?
Hamilton has claimed to have avoided alcohol and drugs since 2005, though he did have a very public relapse in 2009. Sports blog Deadspin obtained photos of a shirtless Hamilton at a Tempe, Ariz., bar and Hamilton admitted he had relapsed in his sobriety.
Can he resist those major temptations when times get toughest? One would certainly hope so, as Hamilton seems to be a good guy, but traumatic events like these can have long lasting impacts on people. Simply seeing a person die in front of you could cause issues, but thinking that you might be the main reason has to be very tough to handle.
Fortunately the baseball All-star break is right around the corner, allowing Hamilton some time to get his head straight and try to bounce back from this death. That along with the support of his family and teammates should hopefully keep the slugger on the right track.
Fans expect muscular superstars like Hamilton to be invincible just like comic book superheroes Superman or Batman. But Hamilton is human just like the rest of us.
Can he overcome this horrible memory? Yes.
But it could take time and work to get through the pain Hamilton is likely suffering.
The bigger question might be: Can fans be patient if Hamilton struggles?