The Texas Rangers are off to a surprisingly decent start this season. One of the reasons was the offseason acquisition of Josh Hamilton from the Cincinnati Reds. Mr. Hamilton’s story is an amazing tale of drug addiction and redemption. Here is the short version.
Josh Hamilton gets drafted first overall in the 1999 MLB draft. Josh gets a lot of money. Josh gets hurt in the minors, becomes a drug addict. Josh is suspended from baseball but claws his way back into the league and is now performing at an all star level for the Rangers.
The triumph of Josh Hamilton over cocaine reminded me of some other former Dallas sports stars who has a fondness for snow- Roy Tarpley and Michael Irvin. Let’s do a comparison to see what we can learn.
Team- Texas Rangers
Drugs- Cocaine, maybe heroin
Legal Issues- None
Work Troubles- Suspended and reinstated.
Today- Center fielder, playing like an all star
Team- Dallas Mavericks
Drugs- Alcohol and Cocaine
Legal Issues- Arrested twice for DWI
Work Troubles Suspended forever from NBA.
Today- Out of basketball, never reinstated.
Team- Dallas Cowboys
Drugs- Cocaine and marijuana
Legal Issues- Arrested for cocaine possession
Work Troubles- Suspended for 5 games.
Today- Doing mediocre TV work
It would be hard to argue by any measure that Roy Tarpley has had the same level of success as Michael Irvin, or the current success of Josh Hamilton. What can we learn from these three different cases of athletes on cocaine?
1. Don’t destroy a future over drug use. Roy Tarpley may have had a Josh Hamilton-like career if not for the NBA’s drug policy. Whereas Josh was suspended and reinstated to MLB, Roy received a lifetime ban. The NBA’s tough on drugs policy prevented Mr. Tarpley from exploiting his greatest marketable talent- rebounding.
If Roy Tarpley has been a musician, actor, son of George H W Bush, hedge fund consultant, etc he would not have had his future destroyed.
The NBA’s lifetime ban is misguided for the same reason as financial aid bans for marijuana convictions. We are destroying the future of so many because we disagree with their recreational substance choices today.
2. Bring back original Coca Cola!
Cocaine is not something I am personally familiar with. However, unlike marijuana, cocaine can kill you and it is addictive. The fact that our nation’s best athletes have used coke leads me to believe that while dangerous, a safer legal product would not be the societal Armageddon drug warriors predict. For example, a legal coca leaf product like….. Original Coca Cola (yes it really had cocaine in it).