I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography

I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography


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The long-awaited autobiography from Georgetown University’s legendary coach, whose life on and off the basketball court threw America’s unresolved struggle with racial justice into sharp relief.

John Thompson was never just a basketball coach and I Came As A Shadow is categorically not just a basketball autobiography.

After five decades at the center of race and sports in America, Thompson—the iconic NCAA champion, Black activist, and educator—was ready to make the private public at last, and he completed this autobiography shortly before his death in the historically tumultuous summer of 2020. Chockful of stories and moving beyond mere stats (three Final Fours, four-time national coach of the year, seven Big East championships, 97 percent graduation rate), Thompson’s book drives us through his childhood under Jim Crow segregation to our current moment of racial reckoning. We experience riding shotgun with Celtics icon Red Auerbach and coaching NBA Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson. What were the origins of the the phrase “Hoya Paranoia”? You’ll see. And parting his veil of secrecy, Thompson brings us into his negotiation with a D.C. drug kingpin in his players’ orbit in the 1980s, as well as behind the scenes of his years on the Nike board.

Thompson’s mother was a teacher who had to clean houses because of racism in the nation's capital. His father could not read or write. Their son grew up to be a man with his own larger-than-life statue in a building that bears his family’s name on a campus once kept afloat by the selling of 272 enslaved Black people. This is a great American story, and John Thompson’s experience sheds light on many of the issues roiling our nation. In these pages, he proves himself to be the elder statesman whose final words college basketball and the country need to hear.

I Came As A Shadow is not a swan song, but a bullhorn blast from one of America’s most prominent sons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250619358
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/15/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 4,639
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

John Thompson was the head basketball coach at Georgetown University from 1972 to 1999, where he won the NCAA championship in 1984. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. He graduated from Providence College and held a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia.

Jesse Washington is a senior writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated.

Table of Contents

A Note from the Co-Author xi

Introduction 1

1 Anna and Rob 7

2 The Rabbit 20

3 Red 35

4 Providence 48

5 The Celtics 61

6 The Game Behind the Game 76

7 Seventy Percent 94

8 "My Mortgage" 108

9 Bay Bay, Big Sky, and the Big East 126

10 Patrick 143

11 The Mountaintop 161

12 Bet the Jockey, Not the Horse 182

13 Sometimes the Lion Kills You 196

14 Rayful 208

15 Proposition 42 221

16 Alonzo and Dikembe 238

17 Iverson 250

18 Nike 273

19 Time to Go 290

20 To Be a Coach 305

21 Do Not Forget 317

Acknowledgments 325

Index 327

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