"The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA" By Lance Allred; Harper Collins, 250 pages
The stories of sports figures often focus so much on athletics that only sports fans find them compelling.
That is not the case with Lance Allred's book "Longshot."
He has a common dream — playing in the NBA. But Allred's journey to fulfilling that dream is extraordinary, not just because of what he accomplished, but because of what he dealt with along the way.
The book is much more than a feel-good, you-can-do-it-if-you-try chronicle. It is a gut-wrenchingly honest account of a man whose story would be mesmerizing no matter what career path he chose. His passion just happens to be hoops.
Raised a fundamentalist Mormon for most of his childhood, Allred is the grandson of Polygamist prophet Rulon Clark Allred, who was murdered by rival polygamists in 1977.
Allred, who was born severely deaf, takes readers on a tour of his life in commune in Montana as a young child and through the turmoil of his family's decision to move to Utah to escape persecution from the commune's leadership when he was in elementary school.
Allred is known to local basketball fans as the deaf player who former Ute head coach Rick Majerus harassed so much, he left and transferred to Weber State to finish his college career. His book catalogs the insults, examines the pain and follows his efforts to rebuild himself after enduring degradation and verbal abuse.
He arrives in a safe place with a kind coach, Joe Cravens, only to find he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
His candor in revealing just how the disease manifested itself in his life and how he finally realized he needed help is one of the highlights of his story.
"Along with putting my hearing aids in every day, I must take a loony pill as well," he writes. "At first I was ashamed, just as I was ashamed of my hearing impairment."
Then his coach points out a teammate who must take insulin for diabetes.
"I'm not ashamed of those pills anymore," he said. "I'm proud of them, as they remind me of the hard path of acceptance I have had to embrace. By accepting my weaknesses and accountability for my actions, I'm able to delight in and appreciate my accomplishments in turn. It's more than a fair trade."
Allred graduates with honors only to find no NBA team willing to draft him. He struggles with agents, playing overseas, toils in the NBA's development league (an accomplishment in and of itself) and finally finds himself on the verge of achieving his dream.
His story will move you, but it is Allred's decision to find strength in that which hurt and could have destroyed him that will inspire readers most. Many people set out to achieve something that, odds are, they probably won't. A very few beat the odds. And then there are those, like Lance Allred, who do so much more than just reach a goal.
Ultimately "Longshot" isn't a book about making a dream reality, as much as it is making life's battles your blessings.
e-mail: [email protected]