Below is our list of the 25 best sports autobiographies from coaches and professional athletes. Each one of these coach and athlete autobiographies are filled with each athlete’s unique life story and the lessons that they’ve learned along the way, all told in their own words.
We love these books because are full of inspiring and motivating stories from coaches and athletes who overcame their fair share of adversity as they created their own path. Chalk full of life lessons and inspiring messages to help keep you motivated, this list of the best sports autobiographies will help you keep your mind right and your focus sharp as you continue to grind to reach the top.
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The 25 Best Sports Autobiographies From Athletes and Coaches
Ronda Rousey is not only a former Olympic medalist in Judo and former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, she’s also a movie star and a heck of a writer. In her sports autobiography My Fight/Your Fight, Rousey reveals her journey to fame and the adversity that she overcame in becoming the best that she could be. Rousey’s rise to fame was filled with bumps and bruises along the way, and she shares all of the life lessons she’s learned along the way.
When the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history writes a book on their coaching philosophy and perspective on life, you know that it’s going to be filled with amazing life lessons. And, Pat Summitt’s Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, A Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective tells her amazing story of climbing to the top of the college basketball world despite being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. This is one of the sports autobiographies that will take you on the emotional journey of Coach Summitt’s career while keeping things in perspective as she fights for her well-being.
One of the greatest perks of athletics is that they give people an avenue to succeed no matter what odds they’re up against. Lopez Lomong’s Running for My Life is a story about outrunning his situation of being a lost boy in the Sudanese Civil War to becoming a member of the US Olympic Team. This is one the most inspirational sports autobiographies you can read as it takes you on Lomong’s journey from being a poor, barefoot runner in Sudan to achieving the unimaginable and becoming an Olympic Athlete.
If you were blind, you would think that being the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest would be a pretty amazing accomplishment. However, as he descending the mountain on the way back, Erik Weihenmayer responded to the challenge of his expedition leader when he was told to not let climbing Mount Everest be the greatest accomplishment in his life. In No Barriers, Weihenmayer tells his amazing life’s journey from his expeditions throughout the world along with the people he’s helped along the way. This is one of the sports biographies that will make you realize that the power to achieve what you want to in life comes from within, no matter what setbacks you may have.
Michael Oher’s story of overcoming adversity was made into a mainstream motion picture that became a big time box office hit. In his book, I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side, Oher tells about the adversity he had to overcome from being homeless in one of the most inspirational sports autobiographies you can read. This motivating tale about the heartache, grit, and deep courage that Oher had to exhibit at an early age will remind you that you can achieve your dreams as long as you put your mind to it.
In one of the more motivational sports autobiographies, former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow shares his perspective on his athletic journey and how to stay within yourself in a world of diasppointment and criticism. Shaken takes you on Tebow’s journey of being named the best player in college football to being released after only one season in the NFL. Along the way, Tebow shares how he grew his confidence within himself when his life decided to take an unplanned turn. This inspiring autobiography will help you realize that tough times don’t last for us, but tough people (mentally and emotionally) always do.
One of the most unique books written by athletes would have to be Tom Brady’s TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. This #1 New York Times Bestseller takes you into the methods and the mindset used by Tom Brady that have allowed him to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and still going strong in his 40s. In this autobiography, you will learn Brady’s calculated approach to long-term fitness, exercising, training, and quality of life. If you have the discipline to learn how to become an elite athlete by never eating a strawberry or lifting weight, this is the book for you.
Maria Sharapova became an overnight celebrity in the world of tennis when she defeated Serena Williams at Wimbledon at the age of 17. Although her meteoric fame appeared “overnight”, Sharapova’s career actually started when she was five years old in a small Russian town. Her story, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, is an in-depth story that tells the determination and dedication of an ambitious tennis player that worked her way to the top. Sharapova’s powerful writing style in this sports autobiography is what makes it one of those books written by athletes that just draws you in from the start.
Let’s face it – Probably nobody on the face of this earth has lived a more interesting life than Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his sports autobiography Total Recall:My Unbelievably True Life Story, Arnold takes you behind the scenes and tells you all about his larger-than-life stories through his perspective. From being Mr. Universe to becoming a blockbuster movie star to the Governor of the State of California, Schwarzenegger takes you on an amazing ride that makes you realize what you’re actually capable of achieving as a human being. He’s not just a dumb jock movie star that made it to the big screen – Schwarzenegger’s story may be one of the greatest immigrant success stories of our time that is truly inspirational.
An amazing books that takes an old-school, disciplined look at how to handle life (and crazy sports parents) is The Matheny Manifesto. In this autobiography, St. Louis Cardinals catcher turned into General Manager Mike Matheny explains the rules he developed from his experiences in life to help create a successful atmosphere for athletes. Right after retiring from the game of baseball, Matheny finally caved in to coach the local high school team after being begged constantly by the parents. However, what the parents didn’t realize when they asked Matheny is that they were going to get an old school, hit-you-between the eyes coach that tells it like it is. This book is full of hilarious encounters with overbearing parents and how Matheny handled them on his way back to managing in the major leagues.
If you’re looking for one of the best sports autobiographies that will inspire you to have the courage to take your first step, all you need to pick up is Courage to Soar by Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles. It’s one of those athlete autobiographies that inspires because of the way the Biles shares her inspiring story from growing up in her hometown of Spring, Texas to becoming a four-time Olympic Gold winner at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janiero.
At every level he played, Wayne Gretzky rewrote the record books. Considered to be the greatest hockey player ever, Gretzky shares his stories in one of the best sports autobiographies you can read, 99: Stories of the Game. In this hockey autobiography from “The Great One” you’ll learn everything that drove one of the most successful and private hockey players that has ever played the game. Gretzky reflects on the imagination he had as a kid and his desire to get better every time that he played – which eventually propelled him to having massive success in the NHL and changed the game of hockey forever.
One of the best books written by athletes in where they had to overcome insurmountable adversity is The Phenomenon by former St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel. This athlete autobiography is a story about how a dominating pitcher in the MLB lost his ability to pitch instantly while he was pitching in the middle of a playoff game on national television. Known as “the Yips”, Ankiel’s problem continued to plague him in his career until he decided to make a choice and reinvent himself in the minor leagues. Eventually, Ankiel returns to the big leagues and plays seven amazing seasons, but his story is one of triumph over tragedy, making it one of the best sports autobiographies that you read.
In a parting gift to the world, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer has put together a collection of the best stories he’s experienced in his life in A Life Well Played: My Stories. Whether you’re a golfer or not, this sports autobiography is a collection of his experiences, thoughts, and advice to help offer guidance and wisdom to those who are in pursuit of their dreams. Full of entertaining stories and timeless wisdom, this book is one of the best sports autobiographies that you can crack open.
As a top draft pick of the Chicago Bulls after a fantastic run as a Duke Basketball player, Jay Williams was on top of the world. However, a motorcycle accident where he crashed head-on into a light pole ended his career and sent him into a deep depression, where he eventually pulled himself out of his darkness. In oe of the most intense and down-right best sports autobiographies you will read, Williams talks about the accident that altered his life, which serves as areminder to athletes that living in the fast lane can have its consequences. Life Is Not An Accident is one of those athlete autobiographies of tragedy and triumph that will have you reading cover to cover.
Once you read the opening chapter of The Keeper from legendary American goalkeeper Tim Howard, you’ll know why this book made our list of the best sports autobiographies you can dive into. Howard is a down-to-earth normal guy that recounts the United States’ rise to world recognition in the 2014 World Cup and the journey that he personally took to get there. What many people don’t know about Tim Howard was his battle with Tourette’s syndrome as a kid and how he overcame it to become the best goalkeeper in the MLS. Ironically, it’s Howard’s calm and humble demeanor it what makes The Keeper one of the most pleasant athlete autobiographies to read.
Arguably one of the best sports autobiographies released recently is A Guy Like Me from former NHL enforcer John Scott. Scott’s story is the ultimate underdog story about his journey to winning the NHL All-Star Game’s MVP award in 2016. Starting out as a joke amongst fans that could vote one player into the NHL All-Star Game, Scott’s popularity exploded and over the course of couple of months he earned the right to play in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game although he was far away from being an All-Star. What is heartwarming about his story is that he overcame insurmountable odds, especially from those who tried to kill his hockey career by sending hi to the minors to just be in the game. Once he stepped on the ice, the rest was history.
This inspiring athlete autobiography from catcher David Ross of the Chicago Cubs is what sports is all about. In Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages, you read about a moveable guy who becomes the heart and soul of the Chicago Cubs as they won the 2016 World Series, snapping a 108 year old curse. What makes Teammate one of the best sports autobiographies is the great detail that Ross shares in how he created such a strong bond being a mentor for his teammates. His nickname “Grandpa Rossy” caught like wildfire amongst the press and his narrative takes you on his heartwarming tale that eventually leads to a magical at-bat in his final game in baseball.
There’s a reason why Drew Brees is one of the most mentally tough quarterbacks in the game of football: He knows how to overcome adversity. This is one of the best sports autobiographies that you can read, hands down. In Coming Back Stronger, Brees explains how he turns adversity into an opportunity for success and turns darkness into hope. This inspirational sports autobiography from Brees will take you on a step-by-step journey in Brees’ (and the City of New Orleans) comeback story in 2005 after suffering a should-be career ending shoulder injury and devastated city from Hurricane Katrina. This book proves that you can overcome any odds that come your way with enough faith, grit, and love for what you do.
Dubbed as the “Zen Master”, Phil Jackson won more championships that any coach in the history of professional sports. And, he did it with several teams. In Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, Jackson explains how he inspired and led his players by not stroking their egos, fears, or greed. Instead, with a calm assertiveness and mindful philosophy, Jackson coached some of the best players with the hardest personalties and taught them how to come together and sacrifice for one another. This sports autobiography is full of revelations and talks about what it takes to bring the best out of ourselves and those around us.
Take a life-long relationship journey between a legendary coach and basketball player in Coach Wooden and Me by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You won’t regret it. This is one of the best sports autobiographies you can read because its a book about the special life-long bond that Abdul-Jabbar shared with John Wooden. While he played baseketball at UCLA, Abdul-Jabbar forged a powerful and inspirational bond with his coach that ended up transcending sports and changing the course of both men’s lives. This book is one of the truly amazing athlete biographies out there that communicates how impactful the bond between a coach and their players really can be.
If you look up the word controversy in the dictionary, you will see Sean Avery’s name right next to the definition. As one of the most polarizing players the NHL has ever seen, Avery made a living for years being a pesky rat that got underneath the skin of his opponents. Now, in Ice Capades, a tell-all sports autobiography, Avery drops the gloves to reveal every aspect in the modern professional athlete’s life today. From what they do on a daily basis to how they stay competitive – you’ll learn everything that professional hockey players do (and don’t do) in order to stay in the league and keep their careers going.
One of the most impactful and best sports autobiographies you will ever read is Open: An Autobiography. This book follows legendary tennis player Andre Agassi and the struggles along the way that he had becoming the best tennis player in the world. However, the struggles that Agassi faced weren’t with playing, they were with himself. The deep, though provoking memoir by Agassi goes into detail about how he was miserable while being on top of the tennis world, and eventually came to resent the sport he dominated his entire life.
World Class tennis player Rafael Nadal has spent a lot of his life dedicating himself to the game of tennis. In Rafa, Nadal reveals what makes his game so unique and shares his personal journey to becoming one of the best tennis players in the world. With amazing charisma, Nadal’s sports autobiography highlights two things that are extremely important to him, even more than tennis: the closeness and love that he has for his family. This is one of the best athlete autobiographies that you can read that will teach you that its very important to never lose sight of where you came from.
Another one of the best sports autobiographies that was turned in to a major motion picture is the story of world class surfer Bethany Hamilton and her amazing story of survival. Soul Surfer is an amazing story about one woman’s determination to overcome a shark attack that cost her arm. However, Hamilton doesn’t let a little shark bite keep her out of competition. In one of the most inspiring books written by athletes, Hamilton takes you on a journey of how she didn’t let the loss of her arm, and fear of the water, hold her back from competing on the world stage.
There’s our list of the Best 25 Sports Autobiographies From Athletes and Coaches that we have read. These are some of the most captivating and inspiring athlete autobiographies that anyone can read.
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For more of the best books written by athletes and coaches, we suggest you check out our other “Best Lists” to help you find some great reads:
- The Best Books That All Athletes Must Read
- The Best Books That All Coaches Have to Read
- The Best Motivational Sports Books For Athletes
- The 5 Best John Wooden Books To Inspire You To Achieve More
- The Best Nutritional Books For Elite Athletes