Book Review: Back from the Dead, by Bill Walton

by Joel Katz

Bill Walton has won virtually every basketball award known to man. He was a star player under famed coach John Wooden at UCLA in the 1980s. He played for several NBA teams in the 1990s. After his playing career ended he became a national television sportscaster.

Back from the Dead, by Bill Walton, tells the story of his exciting games and the great players who became his lifetime friends. If you are basketball fan you will enjoy these stories. But that’s not the part of the book that interested me the most.

I was most interested in Bill’s struggles with adversity and the role cycling played in his rehabilitation.

Bill was born with a genetic defect. He had hair line fractures in his feet. These fractures were not detected with imaging until later in life. He played with great pain throughout his career. The fractures spread to his ankles and legs. Both ankles had to be fused. Bill endured thirty seven surgeries. After each surgery he turned to his bike to rehabilitate himself.

His worst episode occurred when his spinal column collapsed. He was bed ridden for two and a half years. Bill describes this period as one severe depression and thoughts of suicide. Finally he found a doctor who could rebuild his back. As part of his recovery he returned to cycling. While riding around his neighborhood a kid on a skateboard ran into him knocked him down. Bill was down for another year and a half. After a slow recovery he returned to his bike. He is now riding centuries again.

Bill has started an organization to help people with disabilities regain their lives through cycling. He still rides with the group and he continues with his sports broadcasting.

(Published by Simon & Schuster, March 2016)

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