Celebrity autobiographies can be a tough read. Sometimes they are accurate, insightful, and intriguing. Other times, they are nothing more than self-promotion. Some self-promotion is understandable; you have to have a sizable ego to write a book about yourself. You know you’ve really made it when others are writing about you. Having said that, I really enjoyed these three books, and would highly recommend them, not just for the individual themselves, but for the stories they tell.
Hakeem Olajuwon – Living the Dream
Living the Dream tells the story of one of my favorite all time players, of a man who left home and crossed an ocean to go to college, play basketball, and begin an incredible journey through life. He shares a lot of insight into his family, his faith, and life in the NBA.
Reading it gives you the sense of a man with a tremendous talent and the large ego (justifiably) that comes with it. As you read through it, the ego may be more self-confidence than bluster, illustrated by his not accepting his 1994 MVP trophy without the rest of his team on the podium with him.
You can really feel the pain of losing the NCAA title on a last second shot to N.C. State in 1983, to the jubilation of the back to back NBA titles in 1994-95. The book is well written and makes you feel as if you were along for the ride.
Bob Gibson – Stranger to the Game
I picked this one up in the discount bin when I was on the road. I was eight when Gibby retired, so it taught me a lot about the man and the game from a time period before I was born. I knew he was a tough competitor, but the stories he had to tell, and humility he would show when the situation called for it.
There are amazing clubhouse stories about playing with Curt Flood, Lou Brock, Stan Musial, and a host of St. Louis Cardinals royalty. The darker side of baseball life as well, confronting racism in the earlier days of his career and playing and bonding with white teammates. The “wow, this guys IS human” stories, such as the time he asked the manager why he didn’t pull him out of a disastrous start sooner (he was pitching to fast to get anyone warmed up).
Lee Iacocca – Iacocca: An Autobiography
Iacocca was the first business autobiography I have ever read. I was a freshman in college and naïve in the ways of the world in general, let alone the business world. I learned a great deal about office politics, working well with others, working hard to prove yourself, and being tenacious enough to see the really tough projects through.
He was a modern day titan in the auto industry, standing up to Henry Ford, negotiating with the federal government to borrow the money to save Chrysler, and displaying the sales skills that leadership requires. He told the story of a man with great people skills, work ethic, integrity, and an acute business sense, much of which he inherited from his parents.