By Bill Self with John Rohde
Self injured his knee while working at the summer camp of Kansas coach Larry Brown in 1984. After offering his sympathies to Self, Brown innocently asked, “If there’s ever anything I can do for you, just let me know.”
Self quickly blurted out, “You could hire me as a graduate assistant next year.”
“You’re hired,” Brown said.
Self was stunned. He had no idea why he asked Brown for a job. Self didn’t even know if he wanted to be a coach. He was one year away from his business degree at Oklahoma State.
It wasn’t until later when Self learned Brown’s passion toward basketball was so strong, he had a hard time saying no to people who wanted to get into coaching.
Self served as a graduate assistant at KU for the 1985-86 season, when the Jayhawks went 35-4 and advanced to the Final Four in Dallas.
Two years later, Brown brought the national championship to Kansas. Twenty years after that, Self did the same. And it all began when Brown said yes because he couldn’t say no.
By Marshall Smith & John Rohde
Through the recollections of Smith, we learn what made “The Mick” the man he was. This naïve kid who grew up in a poor, working-class family from Commerce, Okla., became the idol of a nation. The price he paid along the way for his fans adulation was not without a great deal of pain. He endured the fear of Hodgkin’s Disease which claimed three generations of Mantle men; alcoholism visited his wife, all of his sons and Mickey himself; and the constant lack of privacy was part of his every day routine.
Although he never fully understood why people. Always craved his autograph or wanted his picture, he did his best to accommodate his fans. He often felt that the only place he could be himself was on the golf course.
Though he conquered his alcoholism, a heart attack claimed Mantle at age 63 after he received a liver transplant in 1995. In the end, the manner in which Mantle faced his illness with courage and dignity, plus the way he shared his humanity before passing, made Mantle truly worthy of our admiration.Continue reading...