I wrote my first “book” in 8th grade English class. Bound between purple construction paper covers, it came complete with glossy paper photos cut and pasted from popular magazines. (This was before the personal computer when “cut and paste” was still a literal term.) The title of my literary masterpiece? Jerry West: The Eternal Quest.
Jerry West, for those who may not be familiar, starred for many years in the NBA (He is the silhouetted player in the NBA logo) and went on to lead the Los Angeles Lakers for decades as General Manager, orchestrating the world championship teams that featured Magic Johnson and many other stars.
From the end the of Junior High through High School, I was obsessed with basketball and played nearly every chance I got, a passion that led to college ball (small school-Div III). I idolized West in those days, even attempting to copy his style of play and quick jump shot release. So when I heard West was coming this past month to speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville I leapt at the chance to meet him in person.
West spoke to a sold-out ballroom about his recently released autobiography West By West: My Charmed, Tortured Life.
Growing up in West Virginia wasn’t easy for the NBA legend, the details of which he chronicles painfully and beautifully in the book co-written with author Jonathan Coleman. Far from your usual sports biography, Jerry West’s story is brutally honest but also inspiring for those who may be suffering with depression or the specter of childhood abuse.
I waited in line for an hour to get my signed copy from Jerry West. It was worth every minute.