Defend yourself from the ‘end of footy season’-blues with these must-read memoirs of sporting legends.
As we head into our next sporting season, it’s time to fill the sport-shaped gap and learn what it takes to be a champion by diving into these incredibly inspiring and refreshingly honest autobiographies of some of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.
Discover what it took for Kobe Bryant to become a basketball icon, learn the struggles Tyson Fury had to overcome to get back in the ring and become heavyweight champion and uncover the man behind the legend, Shane Warne.
So whether you’re looking for a stocking filler for Christmas, a birthday present for a friend or simply just a newfound favourite read, these 10 best sports autobiographies are a must-read for any sports enthusiast.
No Spin, Shane Warne
The ‘King of Spin’ takes us on an informal journey of his life from being a regular Aussie bloke from suburban Melbourne, to becoming one of the finest bowlers in the history of cricket, taking over 1000 international wickets and scoring over 3000 test runs during his career. Nothing is out of bounds as Warnie talks frankly about his relationship with his teammates, his opponents, the notorious relationship with Elizabeth Hurley and a fascination with gambling. Thanks to Shane’s pub talk tone within, readers will be bowled over by the batsman’s honesty within No Spin.
Able, Dylan Alcott
Dylan Alcott is an Australian household hero – not just because of his outstanding achievements in basketball and tennis, but also for his dedication as a passionate disability advocate. Alcott became a paraplegic at the age of 10 and talks touchingly about the challenges this brought, also shining a light on how his family never treated him any differently. This is an incredibly inspirational story of how Alcott trained and strengthened his talent to then later become three times Paralympic Gold Medallist, world number one tennis champion and win numerous Grand Slams. Alcott proves that with determination and a positive attitude, you can smash any barrier. A must-read memoir for everyone, with or without a disability.
Behind The Mask: My Autobiography, Tyson Fury
A knockout autobiography and deserved winner of the 2020 Sports Book of the Year, this candid and compelling book tells the tale of how ‘The Gypsy King’ (Tyson Fury) rose to victory, fell from grace and then rose again to become the ‘Peoples Champion’. Born premature and from Irish traveller stock, Fury talks frankly about his early life, his alcohol and substance abuse and how overcoming his mental health challenges was one of the toughest fights he has ever had. A powerfully poignant story of a man who has battled his demons to become two time heavyweight champion of the world.
The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, Kobe Bryant
The man who famously said, “everything – negative, pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise” gives a unique insight into how he became one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Published in February 2020, just one month after his death, Kobe ‘The Black Mamba’ Bryant shares how he would study his opponents to gain the advantage, how he overcame career-threatening injuries and describes the level of physical strength and mental stamina you need to own the court. A rare factual account of what it takes to become one of the greats, this book is a must-read for any aspiring athlete or basketball enthusiast.
Unbreakable, Jelena Dokic
This exceptionally written memoir details the extraordinary life of a child tennis star Jelena Dokic. Dokic recounts her experience of being a refugee twice as a child and how she overcame poverty and racism to become the world’s fourth-best tennis player by the age of 19. Within Unbreakable Dokic bravely opens up about the emotional and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and how she astonishingly played tennis for 10 years while crippled with anxiety and depression. Her emotional and heartbreaking story will bring tears to your eyes and leave you with an overwhelming feeling of admiration for this remarkable lady who defeated adversity to become an inspiration for women – tennis players or not – all around the world.
Roughy, Jarryd Roughead
This is a rare opportunity to learn about the life of an AFL legend. Born in 1987, Roughead shares stories of his younger days from watching his dad play local footy in Leongatha to revealing how professional footy became his focus from the age of 15. Roughead speaks of his surprise of discovering a melanoma on his lip in 2015; the brutal side effects of the immunotherapy he had to overcome cancer of the lungs in 2016; and his joy of returning as captain of Hawthorn in 2017. A page-turner to say the least, Roughy is a direct and informal account of what it took for Jarryd Roughead to help the Hawks win their fourth premiership during their most decorated period in their club history.
Legacy, Tim Cahill
Arguably the most loved Aussie soccer player of all time, Tim Cahill opens up about his Samoan and British heritage and growing up in Sydney. Within Legacy Cahill talks fondly of his parents’ support, especially their efforts to support his dream of being a professional soccer player at the age of 16. This enjoyable, easy-to-read autobiography helps the reader get to know the modest man behind the sporting fame as he imparts his wisdom about the self-determination and the physical and mental stamina it took to become one of the leading Australian soccer players of his generation. This book is the perfect present for Evertonians and Socceroo fans everywhere.
My Way, Moana Hope
This book is a spectacular story of a truly selfless sporting star. One of 13 children, Hope showed her natural flair for sport at a young age, making the state and national teams for both cricket and Aussie rules football. When her father was sadly diagnosed with terminal cancer, she took time out to care for him until he died four years later. Quickly becoming one of the upcoming talents in the Victoria Women’s Football League; in My Way Hope shares how she silenced the critics who shamed her for her short hair and tattoos, to become one of the greatest female players representing Collingwood and North Melbourne – holding the title as the first player in the Victorian Women’s Football League to kick 100 goals. If you are looking for a female role model, this is the autobiography for you.
Born To Run: My Story, Cathy Freeman
This is the story of an outstanding athlete who became hooked on athletics at a young age and won her first race at just eight years old. Freeman opens up about winning her first gold medal in the 4×100-metre relay at the 1990 Commonwealth Games when she was just 16 and, of course, how she dealt with controversy after carrying the Aboriginal and Australian flag during her victory lap of the 200-metres sprint in 1994. Amazingly this very same act when she won the gold medal in the 400-metre sprint at the 2000 Olympic Games was regarded as a historic moment for the nation, symbolising the Australian people’s desire for reconciliation and pride in her Aboriginal cultural heritage. Freeman’s book is written with a younger reader in mind and is the must-have book for any young hopeful athlete.
This Is Me, Ian Thorpe
Despite the heavy criticism when This Is Me was published in 2013, Thorpe’s sporting success makes this autobiography a must-read for any sporting enthusiast. The book is a technical account of how at the age of 14, Ian Thorpe became the youngest male swimmer to represent Australia and what he went through to win 11 world championships titles, 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals and break 22 world records. Diving deeper into his extraordinary life, Thorpe shares his view of the media, the dark side of being in the sporting spotlight and discusses how he made waves after staging a remarkable comeback in 2012 following his early retirement in 2006. This is a very compelling and straightforward take on the man behind the medals.
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