A remarkable and inspiring memoir by a remarkable and inspiring human being: Arthur Ashe, embodiment of courage and grace in every aspect of his life, from his triumphs as a great tennis champion and his determined social activism to his ordeal in the face of death, a casualty of AIDS. As he brings us into his childhood in Richmond, Virginia, where he was born in 1943, where his mother died when he was six, and where he was raised by a loving but demanding father who set before his son the goals of self-reliance, discipline, and responsibility. He recalls his exit from the then segregated South and his entry into the world of tennis: a black intruder in an all-white enclave, experiencing from the start every variety of rude or "polite" exclusion and yet becoming, despite it, one of his generation's great players. He takes us inside the tennis world of his championship years and his captaincy of the Davis Cup team. He describes the full emotional shock of the discovery in 1988, in the aftermath of a brain operation, of his infection with AIDs - an infection that was traced back to a transfusion after a heart bypass operation in 1983. He tells what took place when he confided his condition to his wife and to a few close friends and colleagues. And he fully recounts for the first time what happened when, in April 1992, the possibility of a newspaper report forced him to reveal his illness to the world, the ordeal that ensued, and his feelings about it. We see how, during the last five years of his life, Ashe devoted the brilliance and strength that had made him a great tennis champion to the championship of great causes: justice for black men and women, the fight against all prejudice, thebattle against AIDS, and active opposition to South Africa's apartheid and to U.S. policy toward Haitians seeking asylum here. With a quiet and moving openness Ashe talks about the athlete's life and about his contemporaries on the tennis court, among them Billie Jean King, Jimm
Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) was a tennis champion, AIDS activist, and tireless crusader for racial and social justice. He was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993. Arnold Rampersad, the Sarah Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Stanford University, has also taught at Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers Universities. His books include The Life of Langston Hughes (two volumes); biographies of W. E. B. Du Bois, Jackie Robinson, and Ralph Ellison; and, with Arthur Ashe, Days of Grace: A Memoir. Among his numerous awards and honors are a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1991 and the National Humanities Medal, presented at the White House in 2011.