Victor Cruz did not just come from nowhere. He didn't just appear out of the blue. He came from what some would dub a broken home, streets rife with crime, and a little boy with big dreams became a legend. It wasn't an overnight thing. It came with struggles and stress attached. As Victor says at the end of this book, "You can't wait for your chance. You can't expect it. You have to earn it." Wise words. I think I'll post them somewhere I can see them and remind myself of this when I get frustrated over my writing career.
I learned a lot as I read this. Football players, the pros anyway, are not dumb jocks. They have to make good SAT scores to get into those colleges where recruiters find them. And after reading about the lockout, the financial stuff they go through, the injuries, the stress, the whole drafting process, I have a newfound respect for football players in general.
Cruz grew up in Paterson, NJ and turned to sports to stay off the streets and out of trouble. He was raised by a single mom and his abuela and papi. His dad was a firefighter who wasn't a part of his life till Cruz turned seven. He introduced his son to football. Cruz had a series of hard knocks: gangs beating on him and his friends, shootings, illness in the family, his father dying, bad grades, and just frustration when the NFL kept passing him by. Nothing was handed to this guy.
I absolutely loved how Cruz managed to talk about all his accomplishments without being arrogant. He even credits numerous other players for helping him, teaching him, praises Eli Manning. He talks about other football players' unique stories, not just himself. And when it got to the 2011 football season, I already knew the scores, had watched the games, but Cruz's POV showed me what was going on behind the scenes.
I appreciate Cruz writing this book, taking the time to tell his story. He gives the rest of us, whether you're from Paterson, NJ, or Tulsa, Oklahoma, a feeling of hope. Reading his story, reading about his persistence in the face of adversity, makes me want to overcome it in my own life. He did it. He made it. He dreamed big and accomplished it.
Five stars. This book was a gift from my mother.