I wasn’t a child who actively looked for heroes. I was enamored enough with my parents and friends that I didn’t feel the need to put my hopes and dreams onto a public figure. However, that didn’t keep me from putting Jerry West on a very high level.
In reading West’s first autobiography from 1969, “Mr. Clutch,” I was riveted by his descriptions of life in West Virginia and his total dedication to basketball. As an eleven-year-old enjoying a balmy Southern California life, West’s story was a world away from my experience.
However, I related to his work ethic and desire to master a skill as thoroughly as possible. It impressed me and allowed me to further appreciate what he did on the court.
In his new autobiography, “West by West: My Charmed and Tormented Life,” the reasons for his obsessive escape into basketball become clear. Reading it over this past weekend, I felt like that boy again reading “Mr. Clutch.”
West’s openness about his chronic depression and barriers to relational intimacy hit me just as his earlier book did. Though I’ve not struggled with emotional pain like West frequently experiences, all of us have been affected by loved ones dealing with challenges much like his.
“West by West” just adds to my appreciation of Jerry West. He may be “weird,” as his son Ryan describes him, but West is certainly a man of substance and great inspiration – whether he’s comfortable with that or not.