Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ren's Ten: Follow-up - The Miracle of St. Anthony and The Ballad of Big Mike

In my initial Ren's Ten: Summer Reading List, I mentioned 2 high-school-related sports books that I thoroughly enjoyed and encouraged you to pick up: Adrian Wojnarowski's The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty; and Michael Lewis' The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. I mentioned that Miracle "is great because it transcends sports and takes a look at the struggles and hardships of a community where little is offered in terms of advancement outside of athletic success...After reading the book, I found myself pulling for these kids (well some of them), started following what they were doing in College."

Seems that the boys from both books are doing alright for themselves.

The trial and tribulations of the St. Anthony crew, while not producing earth-shatteringly spectacular headlines, nonetheless cements Coach Bob Hurley's place in heaven. From Patriot League standout Derrick Mercer to D-III star Ahmad Mosby at Ramapo to St. Francis (NY) transfer Otis Campbell, while not all necessarily lighting up the scoreboard, at least show Hurley's kids continuing to receive the opportunity to rise from the streets and receive college educations.

After posting, we received the following update from Miracle author and Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski:
Among the alumns of the book, you can see Darren Erman, the lawyer turned coach, sitting behind Doc Rivers on the Celtics bench every night on the road. He's kind of a grad assistant workout coach for Celtics. Also, Ahmad Nivins is a serious pro prospect at St. Joseph's in Philly. He had 25 and 10 vs. Penn State other night.
Shifting away and focusing on the latter book, the story of Michael Oher, as portrayed in The Blind Side, was, to say the least, eye-opening. His life, his struggles and his subsequent saving grace in the form of his would-be benefactors and rise from poverty thanks to his adoptive parents Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy who took him from the projects of Memphis, gave him a chance to succeed in life both athletically and academically is nothing short of a miracle itself.

In 2005 Oher earned First Team Freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com and The Sporting News and Third Team distinction from CollegeFootballNews.com. In 2006 after being selected preseason First Team All-SEC by Phipps Football Magazines and Second Team All-SEC by The Sporting News and Lindy’s, he finished earning second team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches (Source: OleMissSports.com). This year, Oher was honored by Rivals.com on its First Team All-SEC team.

Congrats.

For you readers, pick up both books, well worth the time and money.

(Photos: Derrick Mercer courtesy of American U; Michael Oher via University of Mississippi)

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