Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a three-part series. The first installment ran in Tuesday’s edition of The Commercial Dispatch, and the second installment was printed in Wednesday’s newspaper.

Brad Haines was clean, but he wasn’t happy.

In December 2013, he went before Judge Lee Coleman, pleaded guilty and had his offense non-adjudicated. Thanks to letters from the Newmans, people from his church and several friends on his behalf, the crime was expunged from Haines’ permanent record, and he was sentenced to a small fine and three years’ probation.

Haines passed the monthly drug tests and random home inspections with ease. Eighteen months in, his probation officer delivered good news: Haines was officially cleared.

Still, the shame, guilt and depression persisted. Every time Haines left his house, he thought anyone who saw him viewed him as an addict and a “scumbag.”

He was happy with Marlee, but he rarely saw her. Per the terms of the custody agreement, Haines was entitled to spend time with his daughter every other Wednesday, every other weekend and every other holiday, but that was it.

Without a solid job history, Haines found it hard to find full-time work. He worked odd jobs — construction, landscaping, whatever he could find.

In March 2016, he was working for his friend Jep Cole’s wrecker service when Tim Younger came in. The Columbus-Lowndes County coach-pitch youth baseball league based at Propst Park had just had its draft, and one volunteer coach’s first practice didn’t go very well. The man spent the entire time yelling like a drill sergeant, demanding push-ups here and sit-ups there. The group of 9-year-olds never even touched a baseball.

Clearly, the team needed a new coach. Cole’s father Sonny recommended Haines, remembering his experience at New Hope.

“That guy right there is a baseball coach,” he said. “He’ll coach it.”

Asked if he would, Haines demurred. Still ashamed of his history with drugs, he was unsure he’d be welcome around the kids. But later that night, he talked to a parent of one of the players, who put his doubts at ease.

“Man, we don’t care,” Haines was told. “We’re happy that you’re doing better. We think it’s great. Come coach our kids.”

Haines took over the team. From the first practice, he was in love.

“I remember driving home that night going, ‘Man, this is the best I’ve felt in 10 years,’” he said. “‘I got to play baseball with a bunch of kids, and it feels fantastic.’”

The first baseball team Brad Haines coached after his arrest for prescription pills didn’t do well, but Haines hardly cared. He was glad to be back out on the field with the young players. Photo courtesy of Brad Haines

The team didn’t do well that season, but to Haines, it hardly mattered.

“We didn’t win a whole lot of games, but it gave me joy and happiness again,” he said.

At the end of that park season, he was asked by a couple

Even with a pandemic going on, the ensemble of all-star presenters at the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards is looking rather, well, Oscar-worthy.

The Academy announced Monday that an array of past winners including Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Renee Zellweger, Rita Moreno, Marlee Matlin, Laura Dern, Joaquin Phoenix and “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho are part of the first wave of A-listers who will appear as part of ABC’s the Oscars ceremony on April 25 (ABC, 8 ET/5 PT). Joining them will be Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Harrison Ford, Regina King and Zendaya, with additional talent to be named later.

“In keeping with our awards-show-as-a-movie approach, we’ve assembled a truly stellar cast of stars,” Oscar show producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh said in a statement. “There’s so much wattage here, sunglasses may be required.”

Academy Awards show:Nominees, guests will qualify as essential workers to attend Oscars

This year’s Oscars will primarily be held at Los Angeles’ historic Union Station, with additional events at the show’s traditional home, the Dolby Theatre. To keep attendees – limited to nominees, their guests and presenters – safe, producers are treating the “event as an active movie set,” including an on-site COVID safety team with PCR testing capability.

Those involved with the production will qualify for the essential work purpose waiver, allowing them to travel to and from the testing center, rehearsals, and other Academy-organized activities during the lead-up to the awards show.

But before they get there, each nominee and guest must have a minimum of two COVID-19 PCR tests performed by the Academy’s vendor and a total ofthree tests in the week leading up to the Oscars. They’ll also be required to present a travel and quarantine plan to the Academy for approval.