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I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography Kindle Edition
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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
The long-awaited autobiography from Georgetown University’s legendary coach, whose life on and off the basketball court throws America’s unresolved struggle with racial justice into sharp relief
John Thompson was never just a basketball coach and I Came As a Shadow is categorically not just a basketball autobiography.
After three decades at the center of race and sports in America, the first Black head coach to win an NCAA championship is ready to make the private public. Chockful of stories and moving beyond mere stats (and what stats! three Final Fours, four times national coach of the year, seven Big East championships, 97 percent graduation rate), Thompson’s book drives us through his childhood under Jim Crow segregation to our current moment of racial reckoning. We experience riding shotgun with Celtics icon Red Auerbach, and coaching NBA Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson. How did he inspire the phrase “Hoya Paranoia”? You’ll see. And thawing his historically glacial stare, Thompson brings us into his negotiation with a DC drug kingpin in his players’ orbit in the 1980s, as well as behind the scenes on the Nike board today.
Thompson’s mother was a teacher who couldn’t teach because she was Black. His father could not read or write, so the only way he could identify different cements at the factory where he worked was to taste them. Their son grew up to be a man with his own life-sized statue in a building that bears his family’s name on a campus once kept afloat by the selling of 272 enslaved people. This is a great American story, and John Thompson’s experience sheds light on many of the issues roiling our nation. In these pages, he proves himself to be the elder statesman college basketball and the country need to hear from now.
I Came As A Shadow is not a swan song, but a bullhorn blast from one of America’s most prominent sons.
About the Author
Jesse Washington is a writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated and was previously the national writer on race and ethnicity at the Associated Press, managing editor of Vibe, and editor-in-chief of Blaze. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2021
The Progressive Favorite Books of 2021
The Wall Street Journal Who Read What: Entertainers Share Their Favorite Books of 2021: Chosen by Keyshawn Johnson
“Plainspoken and profound … an unusually good sports memoir … a consequential book.”
―The New York Times
“This superb book ... has been eagerly awaited for years. ... Thompson stresses the racial undercurrent that ran through his and Georgetown’s performances on the court.”
“Reminds me of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. A Black man of stature, intelligence, and notoriety tells of his life in the United States. Thompson’s book, written with Jesse Washington, comments on slavery, racism, money in college sports, and education. And, as his mother, Anna, taught him as a boy, Thompson always speaks his mind.”
“In August, I offered NPR listeners an appetizer at the end of John Thompson’s life. I Came As a Shadow is the full meal. What drives you forward as a reader are the experiences. The moments you’d heard about and the ones you had not; the private thoughts of a public man; the complexity of a Black man who both raged against society’s racial injustice and eagerly embraced the opportunities to make things better; and the opinions of a person who remained relevant to the end of his life.”
“A story of hard-won mobility and triumph. … Just like its subject, I Came As a Shadow is smart, plainspoken, and principled.”
―ESPN's The Undefeated
"Every chapter will bring back a lot of great basketball memories from Thompson’s coaching days along with his playing career, his family ties, the people who inspired him and others. Washington pens a brilliant note as the co-author."
"A readable sports memoir; more importantly, a strong contribution to the ongoing discussion on race and racism."
“Coach Thompson changed my life, not through basketball but with his teachings on education and manhood. He also changed our country and the way America sees itself. He was a great coach but an even better person, and his life story has lessons for us all.”
“Coach Thompson was bigger than the game of basketball. He used his position as a leader and one of the greats of coaching to stand up for what he knew was right. I had great respect for him, as a coach and as a man. He was one of a kind and his impact will be felt for years to come.”
“I knew John Thompson for forty years. I loved the man. He was not only a great basketball coach, but an outstanding member of Nike’s Board of Directors for thirty years. His contributions came not just from his sports knowledge but more importantly from his overall wisdom. His passing leaves a large void in the life of Nike and me.”
“I Came As a Shadow is pure John Thompson―direct, honest, and uncompromising. It's the story of how his large life unfolded amidst our nation's ongoing struggle to deal honestly with race. John saw himself first and foremost as a teacher. The lessons he leaves behind with this, his final gift to us, are more important than ever.”
―President Bill Clinton
“No one had a larger impact on college basketball. John built a program at Georgetown that was second to none. He was an incredibly strong person who always put his players first and fought for them at every turn. Repeatedly, I was amazed at his passion for doing what is right, even when unpopular and no one was looking…. John was a one-of-a-kind leader and an absolute treasure.”
“One of the truly remarkable, complex, brilliant, committed, courageous, fascinating men ever.”
“Thanks for saving my life, Coach.”
- ASIN : B0893T5CDX
- Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (December 15, 2020)
- Publication date : December 15, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 20683 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 343 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #255,190 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on December 28, 2020
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John Thompson came as a shadow. He arrived quietly on the scene and gradually became visible to all. In this book, John talks about more than basketball but about life itself. He is transparent about his personal feelings about his decision-making whether they were good or bad. He spoke not only about racism in sports but in this country. Sadly, racism is still an issue today. Yet, John teaches us how we can beat the odds when the cards are stacked against us.
John makes no apologies. He doesn't sugarcoat anything. He tells it like it is whether you believe him or accept what he has to say. A lot of what we thought we knew about John was what the media told us. It was refreshing to read what actually happened and what John thought of the situation. For instance, when he met with Notorious Drug Kingpin Rayful Edmond and when he met with Nike owner, Phil Knight, and how he helped Mr. Knight before Air Jordan elevated the business. Also, he discussed his meeting with Ann Iverson, Allen Iverson's mother. I also appreciated the back stories of Patrick Ewing and how he dealt with racism. I appreciated the stories about local basketball legends who became great after basketball at Georgetown, like Michael Jackson (not the singer) but ball player, and how he was responsible for the TNT NBA commentaries like Shaq and Kenny Smith. For a man who lived a quiet and private life, it felt good to be invited into John Thompson's psyche and understanding what made him tick.
Yes, John was stoic, controlling, arrogant, selfish at times, and his body was as big as his ego, and filled with black pride, but he was also smart, brilliant, practical, and he really cared about his players. His heart was as tender as the towel he carried across his shoulder during games. It represented his mother and her hard work to get him to be the man he became. He wanted to win games and not save every black kid out there, but often times it happened that way. Mentoring fell into his lap and he accepted it whether he wanted to or not.
Although Thompson lost more big games than he won, in the end, he proved to be one of the biggest champions in college sports because he changed lives and institutions. He helped build brands and peoples' characters. Although he came as a shadow, he left his mark in the history of Washington, DC forever!
Thompson talks more about the human elements of coaching, explaining that these kids come from a culture that says “see a policeman, run” and whose role models are drug dealers in fancy clothes and expensive cars.
His love for his players inhabits every page.
He took an indirect route to coaching where he found his niche. Excellent at counseling, coaching staff building, the support system at school, and sports politics. I thought he didn’t go far enough. The reason many black kids struggle at the age of 19 may be that school systems neglected their academic development by stereotyping–throwing them into easy pass classes.
Of course, this book has much about the black predicament including interesting insights about darkness degrees. [He doesn’t mention the phrase “high yellow.”]
There’s some good side history of Nike with its concept of adopting black culture style. Thompson hooks up with Nike so he obviously thinks Colin Kaepernick is cool after they made him their mascot. WTF?
There are some areas where angels fear to tread. In a couple of places he cites where a white sportscaster says simply that blacks are better basketball players than whites. But isn’t there some white-men