The Editor’s Reading List: Books By Black Female Athletes

The following book titles have been compiled from www.barnesandnoble.com by our editor. The photos and synopsis of each book also comes from Barnes & Noble. If purchasing from this list, please consider using Barnes & Noble or another independent book store! These retailers give fair compensation to authors and publishing companies, which keeps the publishing industry in business. For your convenience, just click the photo of the book cover for a direct link to order said book from Barnes & Noble.  Also, be sure to read our 7 BOOKS BY BLACK MALE ATHLETES.

7 BOOKS BY BLACK FEMALE ATHLETES

Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

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THE FIRST FEMALE MUSLIM AMERICAN TO MEDAL AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES

NAMED ONE OF TIME‘S 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE

Growing up in New Jersey as the only African American Muslim at school, Ibtihaj Muhammad always had to find her own way. When she discovered fencing, a sport traditionally reserved for the wealthy, she had to defy expectations and make a place for herself in a sport she grew to love. 

From winning state championships to three-time All-America selections at Duke University, Ibtihaj was poised for success, but the fencing community wasn’t ready to welcome her with open arms just yet. As the only woman of color and the only religious minority on Team USA’s saber fencing squad, Ibtihaj had to chart her own path to success and Olympic glory. 

Proud is a moving coming-of-age story from one of the nation’s most influential athletes and illustrates how she rose above it all.

In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court by Brittney Griner

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Hailed by ESPN as the world’s most famous female basketball player, Brittney Griner, the dunking phenom and national sensation who is shattering stereotypes and breaking boundaries, now shares her coming-of-age story, revealing how she found her strength to overcome bullies and to embrace her authentic self.

Brittney Griner, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, is a once-in-a-generation player, possessing a combination of size and athleticism never before seen in the women’s game. But “the sport’s most transformative figure” (Sports Illustrated) is equally famous for making headlines off the court, for speaking out on issues of gender, sexuality, body image and self-esteem.

At 6’8”, with an 88-inch wingspan and a size 17 shoe (men’s), the Phoenix Mercury star has heard every vicious insult in the book, enduring years of taunting that began in middle school and continues to this day. Through the highs and lows, Griner has learned to remain true to herself, rising above the haters trying to take her down.

In her heartfelt memoir, she reflects on painful episodes in her life and describes how she came to celebrate what makes her unique—inspiring lessons she now shares. Filled with all the humor and personality Griner has become known for, In My Skin is more than a glimpse into one of the most original personalities in sports; it’s also a powerful call to readers to be true to themselves, to love who they are on the inside and out.

Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles

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In this official autobiography from four-time Olympic gold-winning and record-setting American gymnast Simone Biles, Simone shares how her faith, family, passion, and perseverance against tremendous odds helped make her one of the top athletes and record-breaking gymnasts in the world—now with 25 world championship medals.

Simone Biles’ entrance into the world of gymnastics may have started on a daycare field trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but her God-given talent, along with drive to succeed no matter the obstacle, are what brought her to the national spotlight during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and have catapulted her ever since—including becoming the first gymnast in competition to land a double-twisting somersault on beam and the first woman to land a triple double on floor.

But there is more to Simone than the medals—nineteen of them world championship gold. Through years of hard work and determination, she has relied on her faith and family to stay focused and positive, while having fun competing at the highest level and doing what she loves. Here, in her own words, Simone takes you through the events, challenges, and trials that carried her from an early childhood in foster care to a coveted spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Along the way, Simone shares the details of her inspiring personal story—one filled with the kinds of daily acts of courage that led her, and can lead you, to even the most unlikely of dreams.

Don’t Let The Lipstick Fool You: The Making of a Champion by Lisa Leslie

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A three-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time MVP of the WNBA, and the first woman ever to dunk in a professional basketball game, Lisa Leslie is considered one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball. 

But before the superstar was the child growing up too fast in South Central Los Angeles. Over six feet tall in the sixth grade, with a father Lisa never knew, and a sister she couldn’t trust, her life seemed destined to go nowhere fast–another failed statistic in the American dream. 

Today, Lisa is a poised, beautiful, assertive, six-foot-five-inch basketball powerhouse. Her elegance and charm have made her a favorite with fans, the fashion world, and even Hollywood. With hard-won candor and confidence, Lisa Leslie shares in her own words her empowering story about finding grace under pressure, and exceeding expectations–including your own–by playing like a girl. 

“There are a lot of young girls out there who look up to Lisa Leslie. I think it’s great that they can look at Lisa and say we don’t have to make sacrifices.” –Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets and U.S. Olympic Team 

“Lisa is doing for women what Michael Jordan has done for young men.” –Michael Cooper, Lakers great and L.A. Sparks head coach 

My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey

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“The fight is yours to win.”

In this inspiring and moving book, Ronda Rousey, the Olympic medalist in judo, reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and Hollywood star charts her difficult path to glory. 

Marked by her signature charm, barbed wit, and undeniable power, Rousey’s account of the toughest fights of her life—in and outside the Octagon—reveals the painful loss of her father when she was eight years old, the intensity of her judo training, her battles with love, her meteoric rise to fame, the secret behind her undefeated UFC record, and what it takes to become the toughest woman on Earth. Rousey shares hard-won lessons on how to be the best at what you do, including how to find fulfillment in the sacrifices, how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how to be the best on your worst day.

Packed with raw emotion, drama, and wisdom, this is an unforgettable book by one of the most remarkable women in the world.

A Kind of Grace: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Female Athlete by Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee is one of the world’s most successful athletes, and has dominated the women’s decathlon for many years. With this book, Jackie discusses how she has overcome her difficult early years to rise to the top.

The best sports stories are about overcoming overwhelming odds, confronting adversity, and–with a magical combination of skill, will, impossibly hard work, and determination–beating back the obstacles and triumphing with grace. It’s no surprise, then, that Jackie Joyner-Kersee, multi-Olympic champion, All-American basketball star, and all-around inspiration and role model would include “Grace” in the title of her stirring autobiography; through her long careers, she has been both its beneficiary and its embodiment. Her journey from the poverty of East St. Louis to international fame and accomplishment is a marvelous tale of courage and conviction, which she movingly relates with passion, humor, honesty, and, of course, grace.

Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph by C. Vivian Stringer

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At a time when heroes are too rare, C. Vivian Stringer sets a shining example. She has time and again shown character, fortitude, and heart, both on and off the hardwood, and in the face of unbearable loss. In Standing Tall, she shares her remarkable life story, inspiring us to find this fortitude within ourselves. 

“Work hard, and don’t look for excuses,” Stringer’s parents told her, “and you can achieve anything.” But her faith and perseverance would be tested many times. A gifted athlete, she had to fight for a place on an all-white cheerleading squad in the sixties. In 1981, just as her coaching career was taking off, her fourteen-month-old daughter, Nina, was stricken with spinal meningitis. Nina would never walk or talk again. Still grieving, Stringer brought a small, poor, historically black college to the national championships—a triumph hailed as “Hoosiers with an all-female cast.” In 1991, her husband, Bill—her staunchest supporter, the father of her children, and the love of her life—fell dead of a sudden heart attack, but that same year, she led yet another young team to the Final Four. Through these dark times and others—including her bout with cancer, shared here for the first time—Stringer has carried her burdens with grace. Given her history, it was no surprise that she led her team to respond to Don Imus’s slurs with dignity and courage. 

Standing Tall is a story of quiet strength in the face of punishing odds. Above all, it is an extraordinary love story—love for the game, for the players she has coached, for her close-knit family, and for the husband she lost far too soon. It will resonate long after the last page.