I Came as a Shadow: An Autobiography

Holt. Dec. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781250619358. $29.99. SPORTS
Georgetown University’s basketball team dominated the 1980s, and Coach John Thompson (1941–2020) led the Georgetown sidelines, with his daunting stature and trademark white towel. His autobiography (cowritten with Washington, senior writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated) covers his childhood, college years at Providence, two years playing in the NBA, and nearly three decades as Georgetown’s legendary coach. Thompson’s experiences growing up Black in America were crucial to the way he shaped his players, such as Allen Iverson, as young men; Thompson writes that he “never had the luxury of being just a basketball coach.” He was also instrumental in the birth and rise of the powerhouse Big East conference, and made his Georgetown team perennial contenders. Unabashed, direct, and deeply driven, Thompson’s autobiography matches his characteristic intensity on the basketball court, as the life story of a man who saw opportunity as a challenge and never settled for less.
VERDICT Thompson was the first Black coach to win a NCAA championship, and left an indelible mark on college basketball. His autobiography is an important American life story, highly recommended for all public libraries and sports collections.
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