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I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography Paperback – February 1, 2022
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“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.”
“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.”
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.
"One of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you— have ever read." —Augusten Burroughs Learn more
- Publisher : Holt Paperbacks (February 1, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 125061936X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250619365
- Item Weight : 1.11 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.38 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,589,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I’m a middle aged white male.
Always liked the Hoyas since I was a kid, but totally recall John Thompson being labeled negatively
Listen to his side please
I will pass this book along responsibly
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!
By Thomas A. Gordon on December 28, 2020