Editor's note: This is the first of three excerpts from "Assisted: An Autobiography" by John Stockton with Kerry L. Pickett.
In the second grade I became embroiled in a Campbell’s Soup label contest controversy that never went public. Miss Lorenz, one of two lay teachers who taught me, was constantly urging us to think of someone besides “me, myself and I.” She entrusted me with the honor of tallying the coupons accurately. I, however, took a more selfish, dishonest route, and won the competition by a landslide. We had a big ceremony without a recount, and I was awarded a doll with a pretty pink outfit for my trouble. I’m certain Miss Lorenz knew that the coupon totals did not match the numbers I had submitted and crafted the prize accordingly. I hope she knows today that I got the message, and I appreciate her sending it.
• • •
My year outside the classroom didn’t improve much. It started with a crash that had to break Mom’s heart. My sister Stacey had taught me to ride her bike on the sidewalk, where my friends and I had become fairly proficient at jumping curbs, skidding brodies and riding double. We thought our skills merited building a ramp for test purposes. I seconded the motion and took over the construction project. The ramp that I engineered was made from an 8-inch two-by-four propped at an angle on a rock. For all of you engineers out there, this makes a perfect brake. Like any good inventor, I volunteered for the test run. I rode hard and fast with the required precision. I hit the ramp and, when the bike abruptly stopped, tumbled face-first over my handlebars, badly chipping my newly-arrived front tooth, which a prominent silver cap would cover for the next six years.
An ensuing disaster was a perfect complement to the tooth incident. I was babysitting my 4-year-old sister, Leanne, who had stuck toothpicks upright in the carpeted stairs as an obstacle course for Mom when she returned. After a gentle chastising, we cleaned up the toothpick course together. Convinced the stairs were clear, I bounded down the steps, driving one of the small wooden spikes deep into my bare foot. Undetected by X-ray, the tiny spear festered for six months until it had to be surgically removed. So, by the age of 7, I had literally tested my mettle from head to toe. I wasn’t done yet.
Excerpts from Assisted: An Autobiography, by John Stockton with Kerry L. Pickett. © 2013 Athletic Foundation Inc. Published by Shadow Mountain
John Stockton will be in Salt Lake City for two book signings:
Friday, Nov. 15 — City Creek location of Deseret Book, 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 — Fanzz store at Energy Solutions Arena, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
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