Athlete & Sports Stories for Black History Month

The following list of books, some personal memoir and some biographies, showcases Black athletes (and one sports journalist) that have transcended the world of sport to make an impact on the wider culture.

From Bo Jackson, whose sheer athleticism and domination of multiple sports pushed him into mythic status, to Briana Scurry, who went from a hero on the 1999 World Cup champion Women’s National Soccer Team to struggling to recover from a head injury that ended her career and completely changed the trajectory of her life, these stories showcase the strength of these larger-than-life figures.

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The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson was the first professional athlete to dominate in two sports simultaneously and was a mainstay on television commercials and video games. But his story, chronicled here by longtime sportswriter Jeff Pearlman, was much more than his feats of athleticism.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

Barkley: A Biography

Charles Barkley, the brash NBA legend, gets a fittingly comprehensive biography here, examining both his playing career and his post-retirement life as a cultural icon.

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original

Rickey Henderson’s status as one of the most exciting players in baseball history gets its due reverence in Howard Bryant’s biography. One of the first athletes, and a Black athlete at that, to reach true celebrity status, Henderson had a career that changed baseball forever.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

Watch My Smoke

Eric Dickerson was known on the football field for his bruising, dominating style of play, which also translated to his reputation off the field as he was often embroiled in contract negotiations. The player examines how his fight for payment commensurate with his talents was often viewed negatively by the public but ultimately lead to how athletes leverage their contracts today.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudio on Hoopla.

Seeing Serena

Chronicles Williams’s comeback year after the birth of her daughter Olympia. The author follows Williams around the world, examining both her present-day matches and looking back at a career that has forever changed how the game of tennis is played.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Uphill: A Memoir

An empowering, unabashedly bold memoir by the Atlantic journalist and former ESPN SportsCenter co-anchor about overcoming a legacy of pain and forging a new path, no matter how uphill life’s battles might be. 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook and eAudiobook on OverDrive/Libby.