Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shooting Stars

by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger
The Penguin Press
Hardcover, $26.95
288 pages, illustrated
ISBN: 978-1-59420-232-2

Book Review by Kam Williams

“I was born in December 1984 in a house on Hickory St. that was mostly maintained by my mother’s mother. But when I was three, my grandmother died early Christmas morning of a massive heart attack… The house became harder and harder to keep up.
My mom was working anywhere and everywhere to somehow make ends meet. The house needed work. Work on an old house takes money, and we didn’t have money. Eventually, the city came in, served several eviction notices, and ultimately condemned it and bulldozed it to the ground. Then the moves started…
All I really cared about when I was growing up [was] knowing that my mom was still alive and still by my side. I already didn’t have a father and… all I could do was hope and pray that she was safe, because I knew she was trying to do the best for me that she could. And she always came back.”
 Excerpted from Chapter Two (pages 11-13)

In May of this year, LeBron James, became the youngest NBA player
to be named the league’s MVP. This was just the latest in a long line of accolades showered on the talented superstar for his on-court achievements since he first appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated while still in high school.
Today, he is the sixth-highest paid athlete in the world, behind only Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Kimi Raikkonen, whoever that is. Between his salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers and his lucrative endorsements deals with the likes of Nike, Sprite and Bubblicious LeBron is slated to rake in $40 million in 2009, meaning he will have made a total of over $200 million before turning 25.
Given his phenomenal success, it would be easy to understand if “King James” had a swelled head and forget where came from. But this simply isn’t the case, as is amply illustrated in Shooting Stars, a poignant memoir chronicling his formative years and coming of age in Akron, Ohio. But rather than focus merely on himself, LeBron saw fit to give his pals Willie McGee, Dru Joyce, Sian Cotton and Romeo Travis equal time as subjects of the book as well.
Their enduring friendship was forged at the tender age of ten as members of a travelling youth team called the Shooting Stars. And each one’s very challenging childhood is recounted in vivid detail, such as Willie’s being raised by his big brother because his parents were both drug addicts. Credit Pulitzer Prize-winner Buzz Bissinger for cobbling their stories into a thrilling, overcoming the odds tale proving the power of loyalty and perseverance in pursuit of high school hoop dreams.
A compelling autobiography illustrating the evolution of LeBron into a selfless role model worthy of emulation.

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