Sports Memoirs


Athletes, journalists, entrepreneurs and family members share their stories about their lives in sports.


The Mamba Mentality

Kobe Bryant

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play is Kobe Bryant’s personal perspective of his life and career on the basketball court and his exceptional, insightful style of playing the game—a fitting legacy from the late Los Angeles Laker superstar. In the wake of his retirement from professional basketball, Kobe “The Black Mamba” Bryant decided to share his vast knowledge and understanding of the game to take readers on an unprecedented journey to the core of the legendary “Mamba mentality.” Citing an obligation and an opportunity to teach young players, hardcore fans, and devoted students of the game how to play it “the right way,” The Mamba Mentality takes us inside the mind of one of the most intelligent, analytical, and creative basketball players ever. In his own words, Bryant reveals his famously detailed approach and the steps he took to prepare mentally and physically to not just succeed at the game, but to excel. Readers will learn how Bryant studied an opponent, how he channeled his passion for the game, how he played through injuries. They’ll also get fascinating granular detail as he breaks down specific plays and match-ups from throughout his career. Bryant’s detailed accounts are paired with stunning photographs by the Hall of Fame photographer Andrew D. Bernstein. Bernstein, long the Lakers and NBA official photographer, captured Bryant’s very first NBA photo in 1996 and his last in 2016—and hundreds of thousands in between, the record of a unique, twenty-year relationship between one athlete and one photographer. The combination of Bryant’s narrative and Bernstein’s photos make The Mamba Mentality an unprecedented look behind the curtain at the career of one of the world’s most celebrated and fascinating athletes.

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Spinning the Globe

Ben Green

Before Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, or Michael Jordan––before Magic Johnson and Showtime––the Harlem Globetrotters revolutionized basketball and spread the game around the world. In Spinning the Globe, author Ben Green tells the story of this extraordinary franchise and iconic American institution. We follow the Globetrotters' rise from backwoods obscurity during the harsh years of the Great Depression to become the best basketball team in the country and, by the early 1950s, the most popular sports franchise in the world. Green brings to life their struggles with racism and segregation, and their influence upon a nation's views about race and sport. We witness the Globetrotters' fall from grace to the brink of bankruptcy in the early 1990s, and their ultimate rebirth under Mannie Jackson today, as they once again amaze kids and families around the world.

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All the Way

Joe Namath

The NFL icon who first brought show business to sports shares his life lessons on fame, fatherhood, and football. Three days before the 1969 Super Bowl, Joe Namath promised the nation that he would lead the New York Jets to an 18-point underdog victory against the seemingly invincible Baltimore Colts. When the final whistle blew, that promise had been kept. Namath was instantly heralded as a gridiron god, while his rugged good looks, progressive views on race, and boyish charm quickly transformed him - in an era of raucous rebellion, shifting social norms, and political upheaval - into both a bona fide celebrity and a symbol of the commercialization of pro sports. By 26, with a championship title under his belt, he was quite simply the most famous athlete alive. Although his legacy has long been cemented in the history books, beneath the eccentric yet charismatic personality was a player plagued by injury and addiction, both sex and substance. When failing knees permanently derailed his career, he turned to Hollywood and endorsements, not to mention a tumultuous marriage and fleeting bouts of sobriety, to try and find purpose. Now 74, Namath is ready to open up, brilliantly using the four quarters of Super Bowl III as the narrative backbone to a life that was anything but charmed. As much about football and fame as about addiction, fatherhood, and coming to terms with our own mortality, All the Way finally reveals the man behind the icon.

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A Sporting Chance

Lori Alexander

Telling the inspiring story behind the creation of the Paralympics, this biography combines archival photos, full-color illustrations, and a riveting narrative to honor the life of Ludwig Guttmann, whose work profoundly changed lives.

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She Persisted in Sports

Chelsea Clinton

Throughout history, women have been told that they couldn't achieve their dreams, no matter how hard they tried. Women athletes have faced their own unique set of challenges, across countless sports and levels of play. In this third She Persisted book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to women who have excelled in their sports because of their persistence. She Persisted in Sports is a book for everyone who has ever aimed for a goal and been told it wasn't theirs to hit, for everyone who has ever raced for a finish line that seemed all too far away, and for everyone who has ever felt small or unimportant while out on the field. Alexandra Boiger's vibrant artwork accompanies this inspiring text that shows readers of all ages that, no matter what obstacles come their way, they have the power to persist and succeed.

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The Divine Miss Marble

Robert Weintraub

Who was Alice Marble? In her public life, she was the biggest tennis star of the pre-war era, a household name like Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis. She was famous for overcoming serious illness to win the biggest tournaments, including Wimbledon. She was also a fashion designer and trendsetter, a contributor to a pioneering new comic called Wonder Woman--and friend to the biggest names in Hollywood and society, like Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies, and members of families named Bloomingdale, Loew, and du Pont. She helped integrate tennis with her support of Althea Gibson, and even coached two young women who became stars in their own right: Billie Jean King and Sally Ride. Yet her private life provoked constant speculation while she was alive, and her own memoirs added layers of legend upon stories. According to Alice, she married a man who was killed in the skies over Europe during World War II. But who was the man she loved, and had he even existed? She was widely known for her patriotism during World War II. Had she really nearly given her life for her country as a spy, shot during a wild car chase fleeing foreign espionage agents? In The Divine Miss Marble, bestselling author Robert Weintraub traveled the country to uncover her fascinating story. And the more he learned about her, the more her mysteries and contradictions deepened. Alice was a powerful woman who knew her worth, demanding equal pay to men decades earlier than other female athletes; yet she was held in sway by a domineering, highly successful coach with whom she had a volatile relationship. She was renowned for her California style, and had a brilliant mind and the guts to overcome a lifetime of physical trauma. For the first time here, we come closer than ever before to the truths of this unforgettable life, and somehow it's a story even more extraordinary than everything we already know about the divine Alice Marble.

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Ultramarathon Man

Dean Karnazes

Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people-nonrunners and runners alike-to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of "what it feels like to be truly alive," says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle. Ultramarathon Man answers the questions Karnazes is continually asked: - Why do you do it? - How do you do it? - Are you insane? And in the new paperback edition, Karnazes answers the two questions he was most asked on his book tour: - What, exactly, do you eat? - How do you train to stay in such good shape?

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The Driver

Alexander Roy

On his deathbed, Alex Roy's father dropped tantalizing hints about the notorious Cannonball Run of the 1970s, the utterly illegal high-speed nonstop race from New York to L.A. that was nothing at all like the one portrayed in the Burt Reynolds movie. Inspired by his father's dying words, and against the advice of his loyal, lifelong friends, Roy enters the mysterious world of road rallies and underground races—trying both to find himself and to locate The Driver, the anonymous organizer of the world's ultimate secret race—neither of which may exist. But in order to get noticed by The Driver, Roy must first become a force to be reckoned with. In this riveting memoir, Roy straps you into his highly modified BMW M5 and takes you on a terrifying 120 mph lap of Manhattan (his version of the French cult film Rendezvous), then tackles the Gumball 3000 and the Bullrun—the two most infamous road rallies in the world. He creates a character for himself and his car, Polizei Autobahn Interceptor, and they stick out among the Lamborghinis and Ferraris driven by millionaire playboys, software moguls, Arab princes, movie stars, leggy Czech supermodels, gear-heads, and tech whizzes. Out of the hundred-plus rally drivers, a select few—Alex Roy among them—compete as if these are full-on honestto-god road races, traveling from London to Morocco, from Budapest to Rome, from San Francisco to Miami at speeds approaching 200 mph. With his M5 armed with amyriad of radar detectors, laser jammers, and police scanners, and his trunk crammed with a variety of fake uniforms, the obsessively prepared Roy evades arrest at almost every turn, wreaking havoc on his fiercest rivals, and gaining the admiration of police forces around the globe. But his rise to the top of the rally-driving world ultimately proves hollow, until he meets a young film producer documenting the obscure post–Cannonball Run races and the holy grail of cross-country racing—the N.Y.-to-L.A. speed record of thirty-two hours and seven minutes set back in 1983. Can that time even be approached today, much less beaten? As Roy reveals in The Driver, there are reasons why no one has tried in twenty-four years. But should he try? Can he do it? Full of hilarious, sexy, and shocking stories from a life lived at the right-hand edge of the speedometer, The Driver offers a never-before-told insider's account of the fast, dangerous, and unbelievable society that has long been offlimits to most of us. Filled with insane driving and Roy's quixotic quest to win both for his late father and for himself, The Driver is the tale of one man's insatiable drive beyond life in the fast lane.

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A Son of the Game

James Dodson

A Son of the Game is the story of how acclaimed golf writer James Dodson, feeling directionless at midlife, leaves his home in Maine to revisit Pinehurst, North Carolina—where his father first taught him the game that would shape his life. Once he arrives, the curative power of the Sandhills region not only helps him find a new career working for the local paper, but also reignites his flagging passion for golf. And, perhaps more significantly, it inspires him to try to pass along to his teenage son the same sense of joy and contentment he has found in the game, and to recall the many colorful and lifelong friends he has met on the links. This wise memoir about finding new meaning through an old sport is filled with anecdotes about the history of the game and of Pinehurst, the home of American golf, where many larger-than-life legends played some of their greatest rounds. Dodson’s bestselling memoir Final Rounds began in Pinehurst, and now he follows his journey of discovery back to where his love of the game began—a love that he hopes to make a family legacy.

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Quiet Strength

Tony Dungy, Nathan Whitaker

A biography of the coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the first African American football coach to lead his team to a Superbowl victory concentrates on his religious life as well as his career in football.

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Lay the Favorite

Beth Raymer

Documents the author's high-stakes adventures in the world of sports betting, tracing how she arrived in Vegas hoping to become a cocktail waitress only to be seduced by the adrenaline-fueled gambler's lifestyle and its surfeit of illusory glamour and nefarious characters.

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The Big Fight

Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Arkush

In this unflinching and inspiring autobiography, the boxing legend faces his single greatest competitor: himself. Sugar Ray Leonard's brutally honest and uplifting memoir reveals in intimate detail for the first time the complex man behind the boxer. The Olympic hero, multichampionship winner, and beloved athlete waged his own personal battle with depression, rage, addiction, and greed. Coming from a tumultuous, impoverished household and a dangerous neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, Sugar Ray Leonard rose swiftly and skillfully through the ranks of amateur boxing-and eventually went on to win a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics. With an extremely ill father and no endorsement deals, Leonard decided to go pro. The Big Fight takes readers behind the scenes of a notoriously corrupt sport and chronicles the evolution of a champion, as Leonard prepares for the greatest fights of his life-against Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, and Wilfred Benitez. At the same time Leonard fearlessly reveals his own contradictions and compulsions, his infidelity, and alcohol and cocaine abuse. With honesty, humor, and hard-won perspective, Leonard comes to terms with both triumph and struggle-and presents a gripping portrait of remarkable strength, courage, and resilience, both in and out of the ring.

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Solo

Hope Solo

"My family doesn't do happy endings. We do sad endings or frustrating endings or no endings at all. We are hardwired to expect the next interruption or disappearance or broken promise." Hope Solo is the face of the modern female athlete. She is fearless, outspoken, and the best in the world at what she does: protecting the goal of the U.S. women's soccer team. Her outsized talent has led her to the pinnacle of her sport—the Olympics and the World Cup—and made her into an international celebrity who is just as likely to appear on ABC's Dancing with the Stars as she is on the covers of Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, and Vogue. But her journey—which began in Richland, Washington, where she was raised by her strong-willed mother on the scorched earth of defunct nuclear testing sites—is similarly haunted by the fallout of her family history. Her father, a philanderer and con man, was convicted of embezzlement when Solo was an infant. She lost touch with him as he drifted out of prison and into homelessness. By the time they reunited, years later, in the parking lot of a grocery store, she was an All-American goalkeeper at the University of Washington and already a budding prospect for the U.S. national team. He was living in the woods. Despite harboring serious doubts even about the provenance of her father's last name (and her own), Solo embraces him as fiercely as she pursues her dreams of being a world-class soccer player. When those dreams are threatened by her standing within the national team, as when she was famously benched in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup after four shutouts and spoke her piece publicly, we see a woman of uncompromising independence and hard-won perseverance navigate the petty backlash against her. For the first time, she tells her version of that controversial episode, and offers with it a full understanding of her hard-scrabble life. Moving, sometimes shocking, Solo is a portrait of an athlete finding redemption. This is the Hope Solo whom few have ever glimpsed.

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Imperfect

Jim Abbott, Tim Brown

A one-handed pitcher who became one of the select few to pitch a no-hitter in Major League Baseball, explains how he rose above his disability to excel at the sport he loved through high school, college and adulthood.

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You Can’t Make This Up

Al Michaels, L. Jon Wertheim

In this highly entertaining and insightful memoir, one of television’s most respected broadcasters interweaves the story of his life and career with lively firsthand tales of some of the most thrilling events and fascinating figures in modern sports. No sportscaster has covered more major sporting events than Al Michaels. Over the course of his forty-plus year career, he has logged more hours on live network television than any other broadcaster in history, and is the only play-by-play commentator to have covered all four major sports championships: the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, and the Stanley Cup Final. He has also witnessed first-hand some of the most memorable events in modern sports, and in this highly personal and revealing account, brings them vividly to life. Michaels shares never-before-told stories from his early years and his rise to the top, covering some of the greatest moments of the past half century—from the “Miracle on Ice”—the historic 1980 Olympic hockey finals—to the earthquake that rocked the 1989 World Series. Some of the greatest names on and off the field are here—Michael Jordan, Bill Walton, Pete Rose, Bill Walsh, Peyton and Eli Manning, Brett Favre, John Madden, Howard Cosell, Cris Collinsworth, and many, many more. Forthright and down-to-earth, Michaels tells the truth as he sees it, giving readers unique insight into the high drama, the colorful players, and the heroes and occasional villains of an industry that has become a vital part of modern culture.

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My Corner of the Ring

Jesselyn Silva

In this Lean-In style inspirational memoir, twelve-year-old Jesselyn Silva offers a ringside seat to girl power and what it takes to win in the ring and in life: punch by punch. My Corner of the Ring shows kids what it means to be true to yourself and stick with your dreams even when facing adversity and ridicule. Supported by her single dad, Jesselyn (JessZilla in the ring) first donned her boxing gloves at seven years of age, making her one of very few female boxers in the country. My Corner of the Ring charts Jesselyn's oft times exhilarating and heartbreaking journey to success in a male dominated sport where she struggles to find partners to spar with and combats the viewpoint that no one wants to see a girl fight. Despite an inhospitable environment, Jesselyn still has her sights set on the Olympics. With the help of her very dad, Pedro, who has instilled in her a strong work ethic, she just might make it. It is an exciting and motivational read that will provide kids with the roadmap and encouragement to accomplish whatever goals they set for themselves. Jesselyn's positive can-do attitude and determination make this a must read.

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Shoe Dog

Phil Knight

Fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his car in 1963, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. In Shoe Dog, he tells his story at last. At twenty-four, Knight decides that rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, new, dynamic, different. He details the many risks he encountered, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs. Above all, he recalls the relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers. Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the transformative power of sports, they created a brand—and a culture—that changed everything.

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At Home with Muhammad Ali

Hana Ali

Muhammad Ali’s daughter captures the legendary heavyweight boxing champion, Olympic Gold medalist, activist, and philanthropist as never before in this candid and intimate family memoir, based on personal recordings he kept throughout his adult life. Athlete. Activist. Champion. Ambassador. Icon. Father. The greatest, Muhammad Ali, is all of these things. In this candid family memoir, Hana Ali illuminates this momentous figure as only a daughter can. As Ali approached the end of his astonishing boxing career, he embraced a new purpose and role, turning his focus to his family and friends. In that role, he took center stage as an ambassador for peace and friendship. Dedicated to preserving his family’s unique history, Ali began recording a series of audio diaries in the 1970s, which his daughter later inherited. Through these private tapes, as well as personal journals, love letters, cherished memories, and many never-before-seen photographs, she reveals a complex man devoted to keeping all nine of his children united, and to helping others. Hana gives us a privileged glimpse inside the Ali home, sharing the everyday adventures her family experienced—all so “normal,” with visitors such as Clint Eastwood and John Travolta dropping by. She shares the joy and laughter, the hardship and pain, and, most importantly, the dedication and love that has bonded them.

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