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.)
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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