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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Living Out Loud

Sports, Cancer, and the Things Worth Fighting For

Craig Sager with Craig Sager II and Brian Curtis; foreword by Charles Barkley

Flatiron Books




Good things do come from having cancer. It is a little strange to read that line out loud, but it was actually easy to write, because it’s true. At least for me. Since being diagnosed with leukemia in April 2014, my outlook on life has been inversely proportional to the effect my disease has had on my body. I have been able to touch people in ways I never thought possible. I have formed friendships with random strangers around the country who are battling their own enemy. I have savored every ounce of sunshine, of sea breeze, of buffalo shrimp, of private moments with my bride and children. The cancer has reinforced my passion for my life’s work and my desire to continue doing it.

Most of all, having cancer has made me more determined than I have ever been. I will beat the odds and I will beat leukemia and I sure as hell won’t let it stop me from living my life. I have always been a public figure because of my work in sports television and, yes, because of my fancy jackets. When I was diagnosed two years ago, I made the decision that I was not going to hide from the cancer or attempt to shield others from the news. I have lived my life out loud for decades and I was not going to change now.

I am as sunny in my outlook as my fanciful suits are bright and, as you will read, I have always been optimistic and fearless. But make no mistake: this battle has not been easy, and there have been some very dark days. No one wants to see me complain, see me in my worst moments, so I make sure I summon the strength to be positive when others are around.

When I was first approached about the idea of a book, I hesitated, for though I’m kind of like the Forrest Gump of the sporting world, like Forrest, I never intended to be the face of anything. In fact, I’ve always liked my role because I could be there without being the guy. Biographies are for heroes and famous people, I thought. But as strangers approached me on the street for photos, as patients sought counsel in the hallways of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and as handwritten letters overwhelmed my mailbox daily, I agreed that if telling my story helps just a few folks looking for some meaning in this raw deal we call cancer, it would be worth it. Despite my determination to win the battle, I don’t know what is in store for me long-term, but I want people to know that even if they’re reading this after I’m gone, I never quit and neither should they.

What follows are the collected moments that have filled the journey of my life and my battle of the past two years, and, most important, reflections that were perhaps compelled by the situation in which I’ve found myself. I don’t have the answers, or a recipe for how to beat cancer or, more simply, how to live your life. All I can do is share my story.

I often think about the famous movie The Pride of the Yankees. It has always been one of my go-tos for inspiration. During the final scene, where Gary Cooper delivers Lou Gehrig’s famous farewell speech, I always find myself leaning in …

People all say that I’ve had a bad break. But today … today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

The Iron Horse and I have something in common. What we might’ve imagined a terminal diagnosis would do to our spirits, it summoned quite the opposite: the greatest appreciation for life imaginable.

Outside of the main entrance of MD Anderson Cancer Center sits a nondenominational chapel for families and patients, and resting in front of the chapel is a beautiful sculpture with an engraving of part of a Victor Hugo poem:

Be like the bird who

Halting in his flight

On limb too slight

Feels it give way beneath him

Yet sings

Knowing he hath wings

I am the bird and I will keep singing until I can’t sing any longer—and then I will sing some more.


Copyright © 2016 by Craig Sager, Craig Sager II, and Brian Curtis

Foreword copyright © 2016 by Charles Barkley