Biography – Athletes

Focus on: Athletes

Dr. J: The Autobiography

by Julius Erving with Karl Taro Greenfeld

Julius “Dr. J” Erving transformed basketball in the 1970s when he brought playground-style moves to the pro game. In Dr. J, Erving frankly relates his private struggles and successes; his thoughtful self-assessment complements the details of his basketball career, from his teamwork on an obscure college squad to the emergence of the wizard who played with and against legends such as Bill Russell, Moses Malone, and Larry Bird. General readers will appreciate this engaging and insightful autobiography, and sports fans will revel in the basketball stats and anecdotes.

Doc: A Memoir

by Dwight Gooden and Ellis Henican

Early in his Major League Baseball career, pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden was acclaimed as a superstar, only to succumb to alcohol and cocaine addiction. Despite his success on the field, his personal life went progressively more out of control, leading to suspensions, rehab, and arrests. Though his 1999 autobiography Heat covered much of this, here he also talks of the difficult years since, directly and honestly. From his childhood to his ultimately successful stint on television’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Gooden takes pains to explore both the good and the bad. For another candid story of a baseball player who overcame addiction, try Josh Hamilton’s explicitly Christian Beyond Belief. 

What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She…

by Bruce Grierson

Born in 1919, Canadian track star Olga Kotelko doesn’t fit into anybody’s preconceptions of a star athlete. For one thing, her career was in elementary school teaching; for another, she didn’t take up track and field until she was 77. But by the time she died in 2014, she held over 30 world records. In What Makes Olga Run?, journalist Bruce Grierson engagingly recounts Kotelko’s life, especially her athletic career, and describes meetings with scientists looking for an explanation for her longevity. While no definitive answers emerge, this engaging narrative presents a compelling portrait of a nonagenarian champion — and inspiration for those who are staring old age in the face. 


by Rafael Nadal and John Carlin

Mallorcan tennis star Rafael Nadal comes from a large but close family, who have helped sustain his championship career through every point and match. In Rafa, Nadal vividly describes his mental preparation and the games he plays, while his co-author John Carlin adds a third-person narration of the same events to each chapter. These engaging parallel accounts also portray Nadal’s youth, his family, and other aspects of his life, which was focused for years on the highest level of professional tennis. Any reader — not just tennis fans — will find this a totally absorbing biography.

In the Blink of an Eye: My Life in NASCAR

by Michael Waltrip

In the 2001 Daytona 500, stock car racer Michael Waltrip won his first NASCAR victory. But the day ended in tragedy when teammate Dale Earnhardt, Sr., died of injuries sustained in a crash. Despite the wrenching sadness that marked Waltrip’s initial win, this compelling autobiography also contains humorous and engaging details of the joys of racing. In the Blink of an Eye chronicles Waltrip’s childhood, his racing career, and his relationships with other drivers, including his older brother Darrell and the Earnhardts. NASCAR fans will savor the book, and anyone curious about stock car racing will want to pick up this informative and entertaining account. 

List created 12/15/15 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

Posted in Adult Staff Picks, Reading Lists and tagged , , , .