On July 7th, 2011 at the Ballpark in Arlington a Brownwood firefighter named Shannon Stone fell after attempting to catch a ball thrown to him by Josh Hamilton. As I watched from home, I was texting friends at the game and hoping for a full recovery. While being transported to the hospital, Stone went into full cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead within an hour after the incident.
Collectively we learned of his young son, his dedicated service to his fellow fireman and his love of baseball. This was without a doubt, a tragedy. While the announcers tried to remain solemn as they called the rest of the game, the camera kept panning back to Hamilton. And I sat at home searching his face for clues.
Those of us that have had an addict in our lives know about triggers. We manipulate situations to make sure nothing sets them off. We whisper to mutual friends about what kind of drinks will be served and who will be in attendance. Are they agitated? Annoyed? Is this reminding them of something bad? We do these things in an attempt to soften the blows of life. We want our friends and family to recover from the disease of addiction, but often our protection isn’t enough.
After the funeral and memorial services were held the season continued on. The Rangers’ post season was full of excitement and ginger ale showers. The World Series was brilliant and tense to watch, so I can only imagine the range of emotions those players fought with through seven games. But all the while, I’m certain the residual feelings from the death mixed with all of his other private issues had lingered from the fall into the holidays.
Now, we’ve all seen the Hamilton support system in action before. Hamilton’s wife Katie was probably cheering his recovery and strength. That night at the bar, fellow Ranger Ian Kinsler even questioned Hamilton’s resolve after sensing that something wasn’t quite right. But at the end of the day Hamilton’s disease convinced him he was fine, lied and sought out to reclaim him.
The friends, family and teammates of Hamilton are going to be carrying around their own heavy doses of regret when they recall all the ways they could have prevented this relapse. But honestly, recovery isn’t a straight path. Just watch an episode of Intervention on A&E, and you’ll see the heartbreak of loved ones that are struggling to keep their addict afloat.
In the countless re-airings of Hamilton’s press conference we saw him apologize and express how he’s let everyone down, but actually I’m not really disappointed in him. We know the process is a lifelong one and that relapses will occur. Everyone can take some solace that he came forward and sought help soon after the incident.
Setbacks like these can occur at any given time, and can be caused by a variety of reasons. But unfortunately the bottom line is: Addiction is a beast. It tears apart dreams, families, and lives on a daily basis. In the midst of their struggle we must offer our support and remember that their sobriety is worth fighting for, and we are prepared to fight.
If you or someone you know is battling addiction call the 24/7 Addiction Hotline at (877) 579-0078.