Book Review: The LeRoy Butler Story by LeRoy Butler and James J. Keller (2003)

Synopsis: Unable to walk without the assistance of braces or casts until he was 7 and living in the poorest part of Jacksonville, LeRoy Butler defied the odds to become a 12-year National Football League veteran. His autobiography tells the story about how he overcame poverty and academic issues to achieve this.

Review: Time certainly does fly. I intended on reading this book when it was first published and, the next thing I knew, it was 17 years later and I realized that never happened. Fortunately, the library happened to have a copy. After finishing it yesterday, I have to say it was worth the wait.

I knew about Butler's inability to walk when he was a child but this book revealed a lot more about his life than I knew about. His story about growing up in an impoverished area was a real eye opener, whether it was the story about watching one if his friends get gunned down over a bicycle or talking about how his mom used to need to hide the amount of groceries she was buying to avoid having someone break into their apartment to steal the food.

The book also shed a lot of light on just how much he had to rely on strangers to help him achieve his potential. I especially liked how he talked about Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden being the only college coach willing to take a chance on him when he had low test scores and wasn't allowed to play his freshman year and the reaction his neighborhood had when Bowden arrived to have him sign his commitment papers.

It was also intriguing hearing his first-hand account of the Packers' Super Bowl years when he was still playing, along with his description of the fluke injury that ultimately ended his career. The fact he managed to remain upbeat rather than bitter was inspirational.

Final Opinion: Whether you are a football fan or not, this is a book that is worth reading. I am glad I finally got around to reading it.

My Grade: A


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