The sports and entertainment world was shocked and saddened when ESPN and ABC host John Saunders died suddenly in August 2016. Saunders was the face of college football coverage on ABC for decades and moderated the popular ESPN show The Sports Reporters for almost as long.
Now a year removed from his untimely passing, a new book titled Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope sheds light on the man behind the deep voice and warming smile and discusses the personal demons that plagued Saunders for much of his life. In this moving, jarring, and ultimately inspiring memoir, Saunders discusses his troubled childhood, the traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2011, and the severe depression that nearly cost him his life.
“Mine is a rare story: that of a black man in the sports industry openly grappling with depression. I will share the good, the bad, and the ugly, including the lengths I’ve gone to to conceal my private life from the public.
So why write a book? Because I want to end the pain and heartache that comes from leading a double life. I also want to reach out to the millions of people, especially men, who think they’re alone and can’t ask for help.”
The book is out this week in hardcover and Kindle.
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