Above the Rim
How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball
Winner of 2021 Orbis Pictus Award!
The story of Elgin Baylor, basketball icon and civil rights advocate, from an all-star team
Hall-of-famer Elgin Baylor was one of basketball’s all-time-greatest players—an innovative athlete, team player, and quiet force for change. One of the first professional African-American players, he inspired others on and off the court. But when traveling for away games, many hotels and restaurants turned Elgin away because he was black. One night, Elgin had enough and staged a one-man protest that captured the attention of the press, the public, and the NBA.
Above the Rim is a poetic, exquisitely illustrated telling of the life of an underrecognized athlete and a celebration of standing up for what is right.
Bryant's richly contextualized account of Elgin Baylor's life, from his childhood in Washington, D.C., where the "nice parks" were "whites only," to playing in the nascent NBA in a segregated U.S., shows how a star athlete used his influence to raise awareness and trigger change. Baylor's astounding athletic talent and quiet character are presented in lyrical snapshots alongside key moments in the Civil Rights struggle, including "the courage of the first black students in Arkansas to sit down in an all-white classroom." When Baylor sits out a 1959 NBA game to protest segregation, he joins activists who understand that "sometimes you have to sit down to stand up." Morrison's lengthened lines in his stylized oil-on-board illustrations sinuously depict Baylor's gravity-defying grace. Includes author's note and timeline. Ages 4 8. \n