What's your story? Jamall Anderson provides some life lessons
My friend Ernest Hooper wrote a book.
He collaborated with former Jefferson and Hillsborough High running back Jamall Anderson to tell Anderson's tale of early success that devolved into poor choices amid the biggest gambling scandal in college football history at Boston College.
"The Best Bet" is Anderson's memoir, acknowledging many mistakes and offering lessons learned.
Anderson tells how his poor choices led to credit card fraud, drugs and sports' ultimate sin, betting against his own team.
As a sports writer at the then St. Petersburg Times, Hooper got to know Anderson in the early 1990s. I likely edited many of Hooper's stories about Anderson, having joined the Times in 1993 as a copy editor and designer devoted to high school sports.
After Anderson's college and pro football dreams crashed at Boston College, he took to writing about his experience. Hooper helped Anderson stitch those thoughts together into the memoir, which provides valuable lessons to young people who often don't realize how quickly the glory can vanish. Over time, Anderson came to realize that the choices and mistakes were his own.
"I grew so bitter toward the media," the book reads. "A 20-year perspective, however, helps you realize that you're really writing the stories. If you give them something to report, they're going to report it. If you have a great game and score touchdowns, they're going to report it. If you steal credit cards and commit fraud, they're going to report it."
Anderson's lessons learned are worth passing along to the youth of today. I'm glad he and Hooper are doing so.