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Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court Hardcover – November 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565129598
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565129597
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Williams, the men's basketball coach at the University of Kansas (1988–2003) and at the University of North Carolina (2003–present), describes his personal and professional path to a Hall of Fame coaching career and two national championships. Ignored by his abusive, drunken father and raised primarily by a cash-strapped, saintly single mother, Williams paid for his college education at UNC by officiating intramural sports. When Dean Smith, that school's legendary basketball coach, offered Williams a low-paying job on his coaching staff, Williams accepted and sold calendars and delivered videotapes to TV stations to feed his family. As a head coach, Williams's dedication extends to landing recruits and running organized, thorough practices. And he's done all this while maintaining a cohesive family life. (He's married to his college sweetheart.) Well-intentioned and upbeat, the book treads the familiar ground of glossy, inspirational sports biographies. Williams recalls passionate speeches, great players (i.e., Michael Jordan, James Worthy) and various anecdotes from the coaching life, but never delivers consistent insight on the workings of a successful coach at two legendary sports programs. However, the book is redeemed by Williams's genial (and borderline hokey) tone and the forthright revelations of his tumultuous childhood and early days coaching in high school and college. 16-page photo insert. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Roy Williams is arguably the most successful active NCAA major-college basketball coach. A few more NCAA championships with North Carolina— he has two—and he inserts himself into the greatest-all-time discussion. His life story is a genuine rags-to-riches saga. Born poor in rural North Carolina and raised by a single mom, he was extraordinarily driven and self-sufficient as a child and young man. He received a basketball scholarship to North Carolina but was in over his head as a player. He worked his way through school refereeing intramural sports––eventually overseeing the entire program––keeping statistics for then head coach Dean Smith, and working summers at Smith’s basketball camp. After graduation, he became a high-school coach, married, and was moving along nicely with his career when the offer came to be a part-time assistant for Smith at a fraction of his salary as a teacher and coach. He took the gamble and supported his young family for years with a variety of side jobs, including selling UNC basketball calendars to local merchants. Eventually he became Smith’s top assistant and played a significant role in recruiting a skinny kid named Michael Jordan. Later he accepted the top job at Kansas and was very successful there before coming home to North Carolina. Fans view Williams today through the narrow prism of success, but they most likely have little concept of the sacrifice and hard work it took to get there. A thoroughly enjoyable memoir related with humor, compassion, and intelligence. --Wes Lukowsky

More About the Author

Currently the head coach of the UNC Tar Heels Men's Basketball team, Roy Williams has won two NCAA Championships with the Tar Heels and brought his teams (both UNC and Kansas) to seven Final Fours. Inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2007, he ranks first in the country in winning percentages among active coaches. Born in Asheville, North Carolina, he rose from Assistant Coach at UNC to Head Coach at Kansas, where he coached the Jayhawks for fifteen years before returning to North Carolina in 2004. During his career, he has coached nineteen first-round NBA draft picks, four National Players of the Year, thirteen first-team All-Americas, and seven conference Players of the Year.

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Customer Reviews

I received this book for Christmas and just started reading it today.
Brenda A. Mcguire
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for any UNC or general college basketball fans.
Sstar416
I'm a KU fan who was heart-broken when Roy Williams went to North Carolina.
C. white

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Hard Work traces the improbable story of Roy Williams, now legendary head coach of Kansas and North Carolina. Roy's family had no money but his mother instilled values that would serve him for a lifetime.

What made this story fascinating was the way Williams planned his career trajectory. Knowing he wanted to be a great basketball coach, he turned down a scholarship at Georgia Tech so he could apprentice with Dean Smith of UNC. He worked all sorts of jobs to get through college. Later he worked all sorts of jobs to be on the staff with Dean Smith first as a volunteer, then as a part-time assistant.

After becoming a full time assistant coach at UNC, Roy still thought carefully about his career moves. He turned down several well-paid jobs till the right athletic director came calling from Kansas. Once established at Kansas, Roy rejected UNC's first offer to return as head coach. .

I got a little bogged down in the details of some games, because I am not a follower of these teams. My only quibble is that we don't get a sense of Coach Williams's coaching personality. He talks a little about what he said to teams in specific situations. But we don't get the same sense of personality as we do with the stories of other coaches, such as the legendary Pat Summitt. She also talks about hard work and she shows how she integrates her philosophy into the teams.
"
Williams's story can be viewed as a fable for career planning. Start early and stay fixed on your goal" is the message we get.

Williams found that his gambles paid off. Could he have become a big-time college coach another way? Possibly. But this path makes a great story. Recommended as a life story even if you're not a die-hard basketball fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. white on May 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a KU fan who was heart-broken when Roy Williams went to North Carolina. Now, after reading his book, I find his decision easier to understand and wish him the successes he so richly deserves. I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it highly.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By F. McClamrock on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Basketball fans will love this biography of a dirt poor son of an alcoholic father who is not really gifted at anything but gets ahead with "hard work" the title. UNC fans will love it and everyone will appreciate the rags to riches story of a coaching "legend in his own time".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rockchalk06 on February 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was one of the Roy-boys for a long time. When Coach left KU for UNC, I was mad. I can't begin to explain how upset I was, along with 2 million others. Williams was KU to me. In 89 I was 10 and never really knew Coach Brown. Williams was all I had every known of KU.

After reading this book, I have a different outlook on what Coach was going through and why he wanted to leave. I think with a couple more years, he would have taken us to a NC, but it all worked out for a reason. Good luck to Coach Williams and UNC. Thanks for taking the time to write this book.
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By Loni Hackworth on July 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not a sports fan. I didn't even know who Roy Williams was. BUt, I picked the book because I was trying out our library's new ebooks section. And, I love nonfiction. So, that's how the book was selected. What a fortuitous find. This book is fantastic. I love Roy's work ethic, his humility, his love of his wife and children, his interest in his students, and cares about his team's character. Roy had a tremendous disadvantage with the father he had, yet he was a terrific father to his own children and to his teams. I admire this coach a great deal, so when the NCAA tournmanet rolls around next year, I'll be rooting for NC and Roy Walker.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Diane B. Wilkes VINE VOICE on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a Tar Heels fan who reveres Dean Smith (Roy and I have that in common!), I can't help but note that in some ways Roy modelled his book after A Coach's Life--including his section on his philosophy and listing of all the boys who played for him. Frankly, there could be no better role model and, say what you want about Roy, he is smart enough to know it and wise enough to acknowledge it.

Roy's story is quite different than Dean's. Roy grew up in severe poverty and with a father who abused his mother continuously. Sweet as Roy (truly) is, he had to learn to be a fighter and he became one, first when he stood up for his mother at a young age and throughout his life. He learned independence early, taking a bus by himself to the Y to play sports. His mom worked several jobs to support him and his sister, yet always left a dime by his bedside for the Coca-Cola he so adored.

Roy repaid that love and devotion--not only to his mother but through the commitment he has shown to the young men who played for him at Kansas and UNC. Threaded through the book are stories of his relationships with many of these young men and you can tell that Williams is completely sincere and voluble on the subject. His warmth (and the heat of his temper) come through the pages of the book. He is such a people person!

Because of that, I was surprised that there was no mention of UNC mascot Jason Ray or UNC student Eve Carson in the retelling of the years in which they died so young; these deaths viscerally impacted the UNC teams.

That's just a comment of surprise--not a criticism. If you care about UNC basketball, you need to read this book.
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