A daughter discovers herself while uncovering her father’s legendary past in football.
At the age of thirty, Jael Ealey Richardson travelled with her father — former CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey — for the first time to a small town in southern Ohio for his fortieth high school reunion. Knowing very little about her father’s past, Richardson was searching for the story behind her father’s move from the projects of Portsmouth, Ohio to Canada’s professional football league in the early 1970s. At the railroad tracks where her father first learned to throw with stones, Jael begins an unexpected journey into her family’s past.
In this engaging father-daughter memoir, Richardson records some of her father’s never-before told stories: his relationship with his absentee father, memories of his high school and college football victories – including a winning record that remains unbroken to this day – and his up-and-down relationship with the woman he would one day marry.
As Richardson begins unravelling the story of her father’s life, she begins to compare her own childhood growing up in Canada, with her father’s US civil rights era upbringing. Along the way, she also discovers the real reason – despite his athletic accomplishments – her father was never drafted into the National Football League.
The Stone Thrower is a moving story about race and destiny written by a daughter looking for answers about her own black history. Using insightful interviews, archival records and her personal reflections, Richardson’s journey to learn about her father’s past leads her to her own important discoveries about herself, and what it really means to be black in Canada.
Richardson, the daughter of African-American quarterback Chuck Ealey, explains that her father's knack for football began with throwing stones at passing trains during his childhood in segregated Ohio in the 1950s and '60. James's smudgy artwork conveys the deprivations of Ealey's youth through thick strokes of paint and images of barren streets and cupboards; on the football field, though, Ealey is a formidable presence in a blue uniform and gold helmet. Richardson focuses on Ealey's upbringing and early athletic career, emphasizing the value of practice and determination. A closing note fills in subsequent details, explaining that Ealey was never able to play professional football in America due to racial bias (he instead joined the Canadian Football League). Ages 5 up. Author's agent: Carly Watters, P.S. Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists.