LAKEWOOD RANCH -- There's a deeper side to Lakewood Ranch's Dick Vitale we don't always see.
Yes, there's the charismatic, exuberant and passionate basketball color analyst we see on ESPN, but when the cameras are off, Vitale is just as passionate about helping people and motivating America's youth.
In his latest and 10th book, "Getting a W in the Game of Life," Vitale shares his life's lessons and experiences of others he's known throughout his life as a educational tool to inspire and motivate today's youth.
Filled with empowering messages and encouraging stories, Vitale, who has been inducted into 11 halls of fame, said all ages can benefit from the books' message: How to succeed in life.
The book was released during the last week of September and encompasses Vitale's T.E.A.M model, togetherness, enthusiasm, attitude and mental toughness to address issues such as bullying, drugs and self-esteem.
"For years, I've been giving speeches about the game of life," Vitale said. "People have said, "Put your speeches in a book."
And Vitale did just that.
But the 240-plus page
book isn't a list of basketball player profiles or Vitale's signature catch phrases, although there are a few. Vitale delves into his upbringing, his rise from working as a high school basketball coach in New Jersey to coaching in the NBA and eventually working at ESPN. He also shares personal stories, some of which he's never shared in public. One excerpt in particular retells his relationship with a former high school player in New Jersey. The player, named Leslie Cason, helped Vitale win two state titles, but his senior year, he began experimenting with drugs. Although Vitale tried to help him, eventually, Cason was consumed by a life of drugs and died of AIDS at the age of 43.
"This one isn't about basketball," Vitale said. "This is about life, the game we all play. This will give you a winning edge in the game of life."
Also a humanitarian, Vitale gives a glimpse into his life's work of fighting cancer and the children he's met with life-threatening illnesses. For seven consecutive years, Vitale has vowed to, and reached, raising $1 million for cancer research.
The book is dedicated to children and families that have struggled with cancer. One of the families mentioned is the Wright family of Lakewood Ranch. In May of 2007, 5-year-old Payton Wright lost her fight with pediatric brain cancer.
All proceeds from the book will go towards funding research for pediatric cancer and the V Foundation.
"How can one be selfish when they lost the greatest gift of all? Their child," Vitale said.
The book can be found at all Broken Egg restaurants or on Vitale's website, www.dickvitaleonline.com, as well as on Amazon and Ascend Books. A free motivational DVD and free shipping is included when ordering on Vitale's website.
NICK WILLIAMS, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams