After his release, he continued to work with prisoners to help them turn their lives around.
Sunday night, just hours before the 38-year-old was fatally shot in south Everett, he was visiting inmates at the Snohomish County Jail, friends said.
"He was the kind of guy that would do anything for you, bend over backward," his friend, Steve Schrudder, said.
During the past three months, however, Hamilton may have been slipping back in with the wrong crowd, Schrudder said.
Police found Hamilton dead around 5:40 a.m. Monday in the driveway of a home in the 2400 block of 75th Street SE, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said.
No arrests have been made and detectives are working on the case.
"We're continuing to develop suspect information," Goetz said.
Schrudder said he met Hamilton around four years ago while both were serving time for armed robbery at the Monroe Correctional Complex.
"We both made a commitment to change our lives," Schrudder said.
In February, Hamilton spoke at the Eastgate Chapel in Marysville, the Rev. Ron Jinkens said.
He talked about the "wonderful, wonderful opportunity the Lord gives people for a second and third chance," Jinkens said.
"He was on a new path and very thankful for it," the pastor said.
Hamilton grew up in Everett and had recently opened a personal fitness company, said his grandfather, Leonard Milke, 80.
"He was a good kid, really good," he said.
Hamilton leaves behind siblings, a father in Lake Stevens, a stepfather in Seattle and several other relatives, Milke said.
His grandson thought the world of his family, Milke said. Now, his family is terribly upset over his death.
Schrudder said he'll sorely miss Hamilton, whom he considered his best friend and served as the best man at his wedding.
"Cory was a very loved individual and full of life," he said.
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone with information about Monday's shooting death is asked to call the Everett Police Department Tip Line at 425-257-8450.
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