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Senior Writer at ESPN
In September 2008, Northern State University men's basketball
coach Don Meyer stood on the brink of immortality. He was about to
surpass the legendary Bobby Knight to become the all-time NCAA wins
leader in men's basketball. Then, on a two-lane road in South
Dakota, everything changed in an instant.
In How Lucky You Can Be, acclaimed sports journalist Buster Olney tells the remarkable story of the successive tragedies that befell Coach Meyer but could not defeat him. Laid low by a horrific car accident that led to the amputation of his left leg below the knee, Coach Meyer had barely emerged from surgery when his doctors informed him that he also had terminal cancer. In the blink of an eye, this prototypical 24/7 workaholic coach-who arrived at the gym most mornings before 6 a.m.-found himself forced to reexamine his priorities at the age of sixty-three. A model of reserve, Coach Meyer had sacrificed much of his emotional life to his program. His wife, Carmen, felt disconnected because of his habitual reticence, while his three children-all now well into adulthood-had long had to compete with basketball for his attention.
With sensitivity and skill, Olney shows how Coach Meyer mined his physical ordeal for the spiritual strength to transform his life. In the months that followed his accident and diagnosis, he reached out to family, friends, and former players in a way he had never been able to do before, making the most of this one last opportunity to tell those close to him how he felt about them-and in turn he received an outpouring of affirmation that confirmed how deeply he had affected others. Sustained throughout an often painful recovery by his love of basketball, he would return to the court once more-with a newfound appreciation for the game's place in his life.
The inspirational story of a life renewed by unimaginable hardship, How Lucky You Can Be proves that it's never too late to start making changes-and reminds us that fortune can smile upon us even in our most trying hours
Robert "Buster" Olney is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine and an analyst for ESPN's Baseball Tonight. He joined ESPN in June 2003 to cover baseball for all ESPN entities, including ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS, and SportsCenter. He currently writes a popular baseball weblog for ESPN.com.
Olney began covering baseball in 1989 as the Nashville Banner's beat reporter for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He later covered the San Diego Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune (1993 - 1994) and the Baltimore Orioles (Baltimore Sun, 1995 - 1996). He arrived at ESPN after six years at the New York Times covering the Mets (1997) and the Yankees (1998 - 2001).
Olney has also authored the Times' bestseller, The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness (HarperCollins 2004), a book about the Paul O'Neill/Tino Martinez Yankees' dynasty of 1996 - 2001.
Olney has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize award for his writing (1997, 1998). He also ranked in the Associated Press Game Story Top 10 from 1996 - 1998.
A native of Randolph Center, Vt., Olney was graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1988 with a degree in history.
- How Lucky You Can Be