“An elegiac yet exuberant new memoir” (The New York Times Book Review)—Bill Walton’s New York Times bestselling memoir about his recovery from debilitating physical injury and how lessons from John Wooden at UCLA (and the music of the Grateful Dead) have inspired his darkest hours.
In February 2008, Bill Walton suffered a spinal collapse so devastating he was unable to get up. It was the culmination of a lifetime of injury. Although Walton had played fourteen seasons in the NBA, he actually missed more games than he played during those years due to injury. From the time of his spinal collapse until his eventual recovery, he spent most of three years flat on the ground. The pain was excruciating, and he thought seriously about killing himself. But he survived, and Back from the Dead is the story of his injury and recovery, set in the context of his amazing athletic career.
Walton grew up in southern California in the 1950s and was deeply influenced by the political and cultural upheavals of the 1960s. Although Walton identified strongly with the counterculture, especially in music, the greatest influence on him outside his family was Coach John Wooden, a thoughtful, precise mentor who seemed immune to the turmoil of the times. The two men would speak every day for forty-three years until Wooden’s death at age ninety-nine.
John Wooden once said that no greatness ever came without sacrifice. In this “frequently stirring memoir…Walton’s love for life and the people and things in it—including his college coach, John Wooden—is infectious. You can’t stop reading, or rooting for the man” (Publishers Weekly). Back from the Dead shares his dramatic story, including his basketball and broadcasting careers, his many setbacks and rebounds, and his ultimate triumph as the toughest of champions. “[Walton] scores another basket—a deeply personal one.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"My history tells me, that there's a crash coming soon," basketball legend Walton writes in his optimistic, bouncy autobiography. "But I know this time will be different." It's a constant that runs throughout Walton's life. Basketball is another the pick-up games at San Diego's Municipal Gym were a revelation for the boy. So is music: Walton is a devout Deadhead who has actually played with the group. Pain, unfortunately, is also nearly constant. Thanks to congenitally bad feet, Walton sat out three years in mid-career he had time to attend law school and only returned after a risky, new operation (slowly) put a spring in his step. Unfortunately, the injuries didn't end once Walton retired. In 2008, his spine collapsed, putting him at his lowest point figuratively and literally the athlete ate his meals on the ground. Walton adroitly weaves his personal and professional lives in this frequently stirring memoir. He doesn't follow through on some fascinating anecdotes, such as the time as a highly paid pro he tried working as a lumberjack. But Walton's love for life and the people and things in it including his college coach, John Wooden is infectious. You can't stop reading, or rooting for the man.