What makes some men drive themselves to succeed in their chosen sport, no matter how daunting the odds? And what are the struggles that victory almost inevitably brings? Meet the swiftest and saddest cyclist of his time, a man whose craving for speed was outstripped by a terrible urge toward self-annihilation. Try to understand the most accomplished high-school runner in American history, whose long-distance records still astound and who, a few years later, abruptly abandoned his wife and three small children. Read of the briefly glorious life of the leading scorer in Division I college basketball, one of the inner city's great success stories . . . while it lasted. This superbly written, insightful book follows the paths of thirteen ravaged champions in solitary crafts such as cycling and running, bowling and boxing, hiking and golf. These men work at and master their sports, driven only by a burning need to prove themselves. Movingly detailed here are their painful journeys to grace and their eventual realization that no victory brings lasting happiness. In short, here is the human experience, told in seconds and miles, scorecards and records.
STEVE FRIEDMAN is the author of Lost on Treasure Island, Driving Lessons, and The Agony of Victory and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Loose Balls. His work has appeared numerous times in The Best American Sports Writing. His website is stevefriedman.net.