Sport plays a significant role in millions of people’s lives. Top-tier athletes are usually held in high regard, with many achieving God-like status from their loyal fans and supporters. The problem is that sports fans rarely know what makes their favorite athlete tick. They gain a little insight via in-depth interviews, but elite-level athletes today are media trained; they are taught what to say and how, so you rarely truly know their thoughts or backgrounds. That is why athletes’ autobiographies are immensely popular.
Prominent people have penned autobiographies for centuries. Margery Kempe’s Book of Margery Kempe, written in 1438, is the earliest known autobiography written in English. Kempe detailed her pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land and her religious experiences as a Christian mystic. Although written in the 15th century, the entire text was only made public in 1936. Renowned long-distance runner Roger Bannister, who ran the world’s first four-minute mile, wrote one of the first sports-related autobiographies in 1955. Since then, thousands of athletes have put pen to paper and documented their life stories. Here are some of the best of that genre.
Andre Agassi – OPEN: An Autobiography
Andre Agassi is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. The American frequently topped the men’s tennis rankings during the 1990s and was usually a favorite to win all his matches with the best online betting sites California offers. The Las Vegas-born star won eight Grand Slam titles during a long and illustrious career, including the Australian Open four times and the world-famous Wimbledon men’s singles championship once.
Many people think that sporting superstars have a passion for their chosen game, and that is usually the case, but not in Agassi’s. Agassi’s violent father forced him to play tennis from an early age and even built a tennis court at the family home, so Agassi could continually practice hitting shots.
A 13-year-old Agassi attended a Florida tennis camp that superstar coach Nick Bollettieri ran. His father could only afford to send him for three months, but after seeing Agassi’s raw ability, Bollettieri offered Agassi free coaching. The youngster dropped out of school during the ninth grade and became a professional tennis player.
Agassi was in continual internal turmoil. On the one hand, Agassi was making millions of dollars and earning star status worldwide. On the other hand, he hated the game with a passion, mainly due to the constant pressure on him to perform.
His open and candid autobiography recalls him growing up in Las Vegas, his battle with taking drugs, and being thrust into the limelight while dating icons Barbra Streisand and Brooke Shields. Esquire listed Agassi’s work as one of the best 30 sportsbooks ever written, which is high praise indeed.
Kevin Keegan – My Life in Football: The Autobiography
Kevin Keegan‘s 2008 memories, entitled My Life in Football: The Autobiography, is riveting and captivating from the first page. Why? Because everyone loves an underdog story, a tale of rags to riches, and Keegan’s story is most certainly that.
Keegan was born in Doncaster, United Kingdom, on Valentine’s Day, 1951. He was born in his aunt’s house; his parents chose that location because she could afford electricity, making it safer for childbirth. Keegan’s father worked as a coal miner and gifted Keegan his first pair of football boots after winning some money betting on horse racing. Little did his father know back then that his son would go on to become one of the greatest football players ever.
At the age of 15, Keegan left school and began working as an office clerk at a local brass works, and spent most of his spare time playing football. A year later, after impressing during a game, Scunthorpe United, a team in the Fourth Division, offered Keegan a trial, which was successful, and Keegan became a professional footballer.
Scunthorpe could not afford football nets and often trained on a concrete car park. He spent five years learning his trade at Scunthorpe before Liverpool paid £20,000 for his services and offered Keegan £50 per week.
Keegan shone at Liverpool, scoting 100 goals in 321 appearances. He later played for Hamburger SV in Germany, Southampton, and his beloved Newcastle United. Keegan remains to this day the only Englishman to win the coveted Ballon d’Or (the World Player of the Year award) twice.
After retiring as a player, Keegan turned to management and famously took Newcastle United from the brink of the Third Division to almost winning the Premier League. He went on to manage the England national team and is known as “King Kev” by his adoring fans.
Keegan’s writing is open, brutally honest, and often funny. If you like seeing the underdog coming out on top, Keegan’s book is for you.
Rob Burrow – Too Many Reasons to Live
When Rob Burrow turned up at the Leeds Rhinos rugby training camp, there were few, if any, who believed he would make it as a professional rugby player. Standing at only 5ft 5in
tall and weighing in at only 70kg, Burrow was smaller than a typical man but tiny compared to some of the huge, hulking men that play rugby.
Despite always being known as “the smallest player in the Super League,” Burrow achieved legendary status in the rugby community. He spent 16 years with Leeds Rhinos, playing 493 games, scoring 198 tries while helping the Rhinos win eight Super League titles and two Challenge Cups.
Throughout his career, Burrows proved doubters wrong repeatedly until he retired in 2017, aged 35. He now has a new battle because, in 2017, doctors diagnosed Burrow with Motor Neurone Disease, a terrible, incurable condition that usually takes a sufferer’s life within a couple of years. However, five years later, Burrow defies the odds again because he says he has too many reasons to live.
His story is both inspirational and heartbreaking simultaneously, although you come away after reading it thinking that Burrow is a giant of a man inside his small frame.
Article written by Ashwini Tagore.