"Everyone knew in their heart of hearts that Jeff wanted a second chance," said Jules Wortman, TNA's vice president of public relations. "Everyone was rooting for him, because he's such a nice guy."

Hardy settled his legal issues in September 2011, when a judge sentenced him to 10 days in jail, 30 months probation and a $100,000 fine. He served his sentence that October.

A week after his release, Hardy returned to in-ring competition on TNA's flagship program "Impact Wrestling." Since then, he's taken it one step at a time, both in the ring and in his personal life.

"It's just been a steady incline," he said. "I'm going to continue to incline until I'm not wrestling. I'm a father now, too, so that's a huge difference in my life. I'm kind of growing up again, so I've pretty much gotten back to basics and started over since I've returned and everything is good."

Now, Hardy'sa part of the Bound for Glory Series, a competition featuring 12 of TNA's top performers vying for the opportunity to headline the company's biggest annual pay-per-view and wrestle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in October.

In the series' points-based scoring system, Hardy joins James Storm and Samoa Joe atop the rankings. He'll have a chance to earn more points, when he goes one-on-one with Mr. Anderson at the BaseBrawl event Friday night.

"I just want to go out there and have the best matches I possibly can," Hardy said. "Twelve is my favorite number, and 2012 has been a good year, so far, so I hope to continue the roll and go out with a bang."

No matter the results of the tournament, Hardy has already laid claim to a much more important prize — the admiration of his peers and the faith of company leaders.

"For someone to take what he brought on himself and overcome it and to have the his determination to be a role model to his fans, especially the young ones, blows my mind," Wortman said. "You can look at Jeff Hardy and see a new person."

BASEBRAWL

Who: The superstars and knockouts of TNA Wrestling

What: Live wrestling show and meet-and-greet

Where: Ripken Stadium, Aberdeen

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets begin at $20 and can be purchased at ironbirdsbaseball.com or by calling 410-297-9292.

TNA stars scheduled to appear include "The Icon" Sting, World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, "Charismatic Enigma" Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, Rob Van Dam, Mr. Anderson and Velvet Sky.