“An elegiac yet exuberant new memoir” (The New York Times Book Review)—Bill Walton’s New York Times bestselling memoir about his recovery from debilitating physical injury and how lessons from John Wooden at UCLA (and the music of the Grateful Dead) have inspired his darkest hours.
In February 2008, Bill Walton suffered a spinal collapse so devastating he was unable to get up. It was the culmination of a lifetime of injury. Although Walton had played fourteen seasons in the NBA, he actually missed more games than he played during those years due to injury. From the time of his spinal collapse until his eventual recovery, he spent most of three years flat on the ground. The pain was excruciating, and he thought seriously about killing himself. But he survived, and Back from the Dead is the story of his injury and recovery, set in the context of his amazing athletic career.
Walton grew up in southern California in the 1950s and was deeply influenced by the political and cultural upheavals of the 1960s. Although Walton identified strongly with the counterculture, especially in music, the greatest influence on him outside his family was Coach John Wooden, a thoughtful, precise mentor who seemed immune to the turmoil of the times. The two men would speak every day for forty-three years until Wooden’s death at age ninety-nine.
John Wooden once said that no greatness ever came without sacrifice. In this “frequently stirring memoir…Walton’s love for life and the people and things in it—including his college coach, John Wooden—is infectious. You can’t stop reading, or rooting for the man” (Publishers Weekly). Back from the Dead shares his dramatic story, including his basketball and broadcasting careers, his many setbacks and rebounds, and his ultimate triumph as the toughest of champions. “[Walton] scores another basket—a deeply personal one.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Bill Walton was NCAA player of the year at UCLA from 1972 to 1974, when UCLA set an NCAA record eighty-eight consecutive-game winning streak. A former NBA Champion and MVP, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and selected as one of the NBA’s Fifty Greatest Players ever. He has also had a successful award-winning broadcasting career with ABC, ESPN, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, Turner, and Fox, among others. He currently resides in his hometown of San Diego with his family. Visit him at BillWalton.com.
“Bill Walton won at every level with extraordinary skill and intelligence. Yet more importantly, he continues to win in the game of life.”
– Bill Russell, Bill Walton’s favorite player ever
“Elegaic yet exuberant. . . . A celebration of a life in sports that is also a frank assessment of the toll basketball took on his body. . . . [Walton] writes writes with admirable candor.”
– John Swansburg, The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable journey of resilience, reinvention and ultimate triumph told in the unique voice of one of the great pundits—and players—of our generation.”
– David J. Stern, NBA Commissioner Emeritus
“This isn’t a basketball story, it’s a story of victory over adversity and the Tao of positive thinking. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Bill Walton is a winner.”
– Mickey Hart, Drummer/Percussionist, Grateful Dead
“Bill Walton played the game of life with the same verve as he did the game of basketball, even in the face of crippling injuries and withering pain. Funny, poignant and inspiring, Back from the Dead is a rollicking, riveting memoir, told with characteristic honesty by one of America’s most compelling personalities.”
– David Axelrod, Author of BELIEVER: My Forty Years in Politics
“Larger than life, with a heart and soul to match his reach and accomplishments, Bill Walton has written a compelling autobiography, Back from the Dead. This is Walton at his best, a great friend who helps you overcome even the most brutal setback.”
– Roger McNamee, tech investor, musician, Deadhead
“Walton adroitly weaves his personal and professional lives in this frequently stirring memoir. . . . [His] love for life and the people and things in it—including his college coach, John Wooden—is infectious. You can’t stop reading, or rooting for the man.”
– Publishers Weekly
"Fervent, witty. . . . One of the NBA's 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one."