The "I Am Second" campaign kicked off its concert series Saturday night with a performance by award-winning Christian band Casting Crowns and special appearance by All-Star center fielder Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.
Around 15,000 attended Saturday's concert at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington ahead of the Rangers vs. Oakland A's game, which was sold out as a result.
Though he was both a speaker and a player that night, Hamilton said Saturday's concert was "a lot of fun."
"I've been able to tell a lot of people about my story," he said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Though Hamilton today is one of the Rangers' top players and the American League leader in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll, few would have imagined where he would be today after his life took a turn for the worst in 2001 – when he took his first drink and snorted cocaine for the first time.
Hamilton's drug addiction led to eight trips to rehab, 26 tattoos, a heartbroken family, and three years away from baseball. From 2001 to 2004, the one-time No. 1 draft pick played in only a few games and was suspended by Major League Baseball for violating their drug policy.
"I went down a path toward destruction," he says on the "I Am Second" website, which contains videos of the personal stories of struggle, transformation and restoration of musicians, actors, athletes, pastors and everyday people.
Then, one October night in 2005, a paltry 180-pound Hamilton covered with tattoos of demons without eyes showed up on his grandmother's doorstep and asked if she would take him in – which she did.
Saddened by the appearance of a grandson who she could barely recognize, Hamilton's grandmother challenged him that month to surrender to God – and, by grace, she got through to him.
From then on, Hamilton began reading the Bible and, with God's help, gave up drugs and alcohol.
After going to rehab and training again in 2006 under heavy watch of the MLB, Hamilton was drafted by the Chicago Cubs, placing him back on track.
"Josh Hamilton symbolizes what 'I Am Second' is all about," said Nathan Sheets, vice president of e3 Partners Ministry, the organization behind "I Am Second." "No matter how big your problems seem, putting Christ first in your life will provide the answers you need. The combination of Josh, these great bands and Rangers baseball will make for a special time at the ballpark."
On Saturday, Hamilton shared his story with the 15,000 who attended the "I Am Second" concert, as he has done around the country.
"I'm telling everyone about Jesus and how great he is and what he's done for my life," said Hamilton, according to the Dallas Morning News.
In addition to Hamilton, other Dallas athletes featured in the "I Am Second" campaign include Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and linebacker Greg Ellis. Since the site launched in December 2008, "I Am Second" has had more than 870,000 unique visits from 187 countries.
Another faith-oriented concert in the series will be given by award-winning Christian band MercyMe on Sept. 19 while the family-friendly music ensemble Los Tigres Del Norte will perform following the Rangers' 2:05 p.m. game June 14 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The games and concerts are the first of the campaign's "Bring a Friend" activities, which also include service and training events.
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