In the eleven years that Olympic gold medal champion Scott Hamilton has lived in Franklin with his wife, Tracie and four kids ages 16, 14, 13 and 9, he has managed to keep himself just a bit busy, whether it’s coaching at his Skating Academy in Antioch or traveling the world for his many speaking engagements.
And he’s always adding to his schedule. Earlier this year, 31 million people tuned into a series on people.com to watch Hamilton handle the diagnosis of his third benign brain tumor last year. The show was an inspiring look into how he handles all aspects of his life, including skating, family, philanthropy, health and the adoption of two of his children from Haiti.
Plus, the survivor of cancer and three pituitary brain tumors has been devoted to the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation since January 1999. The foundation funds advanced, innovative research that treats cancer while sparing the patient.
“It was right after I survived cancer, and I knew that there was a lot missing in the cancer community, just from my experience,” he says. “I had chemo, and it’s not the best thing. It kills the cancer, but it also really significantly affects your body.”
Soon, operations for the foundation will be moving to the new Provision Cares Proton Center Nashville in Williamson County, one of just 15 proton therapy centers in the country. Proton therapy is like targeted radiation; less of the healthy tissue is affected during treatment.
“Our business model is to find a better way, and that’s immunotherapy, targeted therapies and awareness for proton therapy,” he says.
If that wasn’t enough, his third book is coming out Feb. 18. Hamilton says “Finish First: Winning Changes Everything” is a wake-up call for business leaders, entrepreneurs, parents, spouses and students to revitalize their intrinsic will to achieve excellence and go for the win after learning from a loss.
“Winning changes everything,” he says. “If you truly want to live your life extraordinarily, then you’ve got to win. It’s these principles of building strength as kids, building strength as a student, building strength as a business person — showing up every day and outworking everybody. And all those wins are built on a mountain of failure, so failure has to be embraced.
With all that going on, no one could begrudge Hamilton for retreating to a space all his own. Originally built to be a safe room – no windows, all interior walls in the basement – it now has walls covered in records, Hamilton’s drum kit and his always-expanding collection of signed guitars (Kiss, REO Speedwagon, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick).
Each of the framed vinyl records he has collected over his years of training – many of them classic rock – is special to Hamilton in some way. “When you’re training for the Olympics, there’s not a whole lot to do besides train, and so I’d listen to music,” he says. “I loved music, and I loved everything about music.”
The collection of favorites includes hits from Styx, Cheap Trick, Cars, Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin. “Some of them, like that ‘Born to Run’ one, if you open it up, there’s a concert ticket inside from the first time I saw him perform.”
Hamilton has seen Springsteen more than he has any other artist, and that first time he didn’t even have a ticket! He lucked out, buying one outside just before the show. “They were $15 apiece, and it was eleventh row on the aisle. Bruce Springsteen was this close to me singing ‘Spirits in The Night.’”
Hamilton has had the opportunity of meeting and even getting close with many of the artists whose albums hang on his walls — from friends Jack Mack and the Heart Attack to jazz pianist Chick Corea, whom Hamilton collaborated with on a piece of composed skating choreography in the ’80s.
And some he just has a great story about.
“I went to Sting’s very first solo concert, which was really fun,” he says. “I couldn’t see because I was standing behind this woman who kept leaning over. It was at the Ritz in New York, which is a hard venue to see if you’re up on the side. At the end of the concert, I was kind of stiff-necked from trying to lean around to see, and [the woman] was Whoopi Goldberg.”
Just outside the drum room, in addition to more signed guitars, is an Addams Family Pinball machine, one of three pinball machines in the house. When Hamilton relaxes, he relaxes. And across the hall is his personal gym, a room he’s in every day.
Hamilton had never played drums until he participated in a television show where celebrities got to try a skill totally new to them. Then he went to Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp for his 50th birthday where one of his counselors was Elliot Easton, the lead guitar player for The Cars.
“It was awesome,” he says. “I had a blast. It was like I got to play music for the first time in my life.”
And while it’s a space that is just for Hamilton to be himself with no distractions, occasionally one or more of his children will join him. And he loves that even more.
“My kids like to come down here and bang and make noise,” he says. “My 16-year-old, my son from Haiti, holds his drumsticks so naturally, and he has perfect time. Perfect. So he likes to come down here and just mess around.”
Tickets are available now for An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends, 5 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Bridgestone Arena, with Sheryl Crow, Darius Rucker, Cassadee Pope, Bart Millard, Chris Young and Steve Cropper performing alongside skating routines from Olympic, World and National champions, with Peggy Fleming co-hosting. Tickets are $35, $50 and $75. A “Nashville Chic” after-show event at the Omni Hotel will be hosted by Hamilton. Tickets for that dinner range from $250 for single seats to $2,000 for a table of 10.