Today, my friends, I’d like to share some items near and dear to my heart. While I’ve never considered myself much of a reader, as I got further into my career as a professional baseball player, books became a source of both escape and motivation to help pass time and become a better human being.
Below, I’m going to share with you some books that have simply changed my life. I’m talking about the books where not a day goes by when I don’t refer back to them for inspiration and admiration. I used to be the guy who thought it wasn’t cool to read, but damn was I wrong.
Here’s a list (with links to amazon) and short descriptions of my 5 favorite books that have motivated me to become a better athlete, a better person, and a more mentally tough individual overall.
1.) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – The story of Louis Zamperini is nothing short of insanely remarkable. In his early, pre-World War 2 life, he went from a troubled child to an olympic superstar distance runner. During his early adulthood, Louis entered the military as a fighter pilot, during which he was shot down in the pacific ocean and stranded at sea for 47 days. His story gets no easier, however. After being found by the Japanese, he was sent to brutal work camps as a prisoner of war where he would sniff death several times. I won’t give away much more of the story, but the resiliency that Zamp showed during this terrible part of his life would have shattered most men. Complaining about tough circumstances has become a lot harder for me after reading this book.
2.) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch- Optimism in the darkest hours of ones life is probably the mind’s most difficult obstacle. When Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University Professor, was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, he chose the last few months of his life to reach and inspire as many of his students to start living life through a new lens. He succeeded in reaching millions, including myself in this beautiful book.
3.) Fearless by Eric Blehm– Usually what happens when a superstar high-school athlete turns down the wrong path, starts experimenting with drugs, and becomes severely addicted to crack, is not too promising. Usually these type of people don’t ever fully recover and become useful parts of society. Adam Brown isn’t everyone else. His last-ditch effort to kick his problems was to join the Navy and become part of the most elite special forces in the military, the Navy Seals. He knew that the road he was on was leading him to his grave, so he chose a life that made the whole world a better place. This story tells it from the beginning, and takes us into some dark places. It also shows how this special dude grinded his way out to become something truly incredible.
4.) Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell- Another military one, this book is now getting a lot attention since a hollywood movie is being released about it in January. A story of 4 Navy Seals who were in a firefight of their lives, up against hundreds of Taliban fighters in the hills of Afghanistan, Marcus Luttrell lived to tell how his fellow teammates literally fought until there was nothing left. All of them willing at a moments notice to die for the guy next to him. In this book, there are several stories of un-imaginable courage, all of which should be coming to a theater near you. I recommend you read this first, though.
5.) Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton – As a baseball player, this story intrigued me obviously. It wasn’t until I read it though, that I fully appreciated how difficult of a situation Josh had to endure. Addiction is so powerful, but the chances of pulling out of a crack addiction like Adam Brown and Josh Hamilton are extremely slim. This book is a roller coaster ride of high and low points in an amazing athletes journey though baseball, faith, addiction, and the story of how he pulled himself up to get back to the highest level in his sport.
These are some of the books I found very inspiring to my journey to separate myself, and beat the odds of making it to the Major Leagues. They have also changed my outlook on what I once thought as tough and challenging. I no longer take what I have in my life for granted, because these stories put things in a new perspective I didn’t even know existed. My life now has a different lens because of these amazing stories.
Click the headers to find the links to amazon. If you would, share with us some books you enjoyed and found inspirational!