SPORTS: There’s hope for Clarett yet

by Tim Ellsworth, posted Friday, August 11, 2006 (12 years ago)

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Maurice Clarett is a textbook example of wasted talent.

The former Ohio State running back has a truckload of athletic ability. As a freshman, he led the Buckeyes to a national championship and seemed destined for superstardom.

But Clarett just doesn’t have the sense to behave himself and insists on running afoul of the law. In his most recent episode, Clarett was arrested after leading police on a highway chase. He resisted arrest, forcing officers to use Mace to subdue him -- because the bulletproof vest Clarett was wearing rendered stun guns ineffective.

Police also found four loaded guns in his vehicle. Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and his bond was set at $5 million.

This follows an incident a few months ago when Clarett was charged with aggravated robbery.

He’s clearly shown that he’s a menace to society and belongs in prison for a long time. His days of playing football may be over, leaving only questions of what might have been.

Fortunately for Clarett, his is not a hopeless situation. Just ask Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton was the top pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1999 baseball draft. They thought enough of his ability to give him nearly $4 million as a signing bonus. Like Clarett, Hamilton had all the skills necessary to be a baseball star.

But also like Clarett, Hamilton couldn’t stay out of trouble. Major League Baseball suspended him in 2002 for his cocaine use. Hamilton also was a problem drinker.

That suspension lasted for four years, as Hamilton failed to complete multiple drug rehab programs. His suspension was lifted only a few weeks ago. Hope finally seemed visible on the horizon.

After playing in only 15 minor league games, however, a bum knee has ended Hamilton’s season prematurely. His dreams of playing in the big leagues will have to wait even longer. And since Hamilton is now 25, his window of opportunity is quickly closing.

But Hamilton is OK with that. His professional career may not ever be what he once hoped for, but baseball is no longer the top priority that it used to be in Hamilton’s life.

“Josh has got his priorities in life right,” said Mike Chadwick, Hamilton’s father-in-law. “He’s got his faith, his family and his field. He’s not near where he wants to be, but he’s not what he was. God continues to work in his life daily.”

Chadwick, who ministers to students and athletes through Mike Chadwick Ministries, said he expects Hamilton to be a superstar one day -- for the Kingdom of God.

“I think baseball’s going to take care of itself,” Chadwick said.

And so Hamilton is proof to Clarett that even despite his circumstances, his situation isn’t hopeless. The grace of God intervened in Hamilton’s life, transforming him and giving him purpose. The same can happen for Clarett.

Clarett still has much maturing to do, and he’ll continue to pay the consequences for some of the poor decisions he’s made. His football talent may indeed be completely wasted. But better to waste some football ability than to waste an entire life.


Tim Ellsworth is a regular columnist for BP Sports, online at www.bpsports.net.

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