We Just Read Sooley...
I finished reading Sooley by John Grisham over the weekend and really enjoyed the book. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon grows up in South Sudan, is the last person chosen to travel to the US to play in a youth tournament, and eventually gets a scholarship to North Carolina Central.
Without spoiling the book, the village where Sooley lives is ambushed, and his father is killed. His sister is kidnapped, and his mother and two brothers escape in the moonlight and eventually find shelter at a refugee camp in Uganda.
While Sooley is working hard to earn playing time at North Carolina Central, his mother and brothers are struggling to survive. For me, the book left me thinking about several things:
Focus On What You Can Control
It's important to focus on what's in front of us. There are so many things that we can't control, and external circumstances can very easily paralyze a person from achieving anything of significance.
What happened to Sooley's family could have easily stopped Sooley from pursuing his dreams.
As a human being, you feel for any refugee that is trying to find a better life. In many cases, these people are simply trying to survive. As a father, I felt for Sooley's mother, who did everything in her power to provide for her two boys.
Sooley is essentially "adopted" by his college roommate's family. While they'll never fully understand his situation, they provide a much-needed support system.
The book made me proud to be an American. We have so many things that we take for granted. Life isn't the same in many countries around the world, and we tend to forget that.
Sooley's mother and brothers are happy if they can find minimal food and water to drink on a daily basis. In America, Sooley is flying to and from games, eating well as a scholarship athlete, and gaining fame and notoriety as he becomes a household name in college basketball.
Extending An Olive Branch
We all have opportunities in our lives to help people. How often do we disrupt our routines to make a difference for someone else? If someone like Sooley, with limited English skills and no experience living an "American" life, showed up at your door, would you welcome him in?
Sooley achieves what most kids dream about: he has an opportunity to play in the NBA. Without giving anything away, Sooley makes a decision that changes his future (and his life).
Being famous doesn't absolve you from the consequences of bad choices. One bad choice can change anyone's life, regardless of who are or where you've come from.
I'd encourage you to check this book out. When I think John Grisham, I think drama (and for good reason). Grisham has written 50 books, and out of nowhere comes a novel about basketball. However, Grisham did his homework, and Sooley is both believable and written in a way that doesn't make Grisham sound like a basketball novice. The book can be found on Amazon here.
If you're a basketball fan, check out some of our other favorite basketball books here.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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