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Heart of A Lion by Kyle Keiderling

  • Aug 3, 2010
     I can't really comprehend how a deceased person can be a topic in which to write reviews on, but if this is a venue in which people like to share their thoughts or exchange information about knowledge in something interests them, I would recommend reading Heart of a Lion: The Life, Death and Legacy of Hank Gathers by Kyle Keiderling.  It was published this year and offers a detailed account as to why his life, a life that ended twenty years ago, is still an important and influential gift to this day.  For not being a huge sports fan, I was able to find a story in this work of non-fiction and make connections to to my life as a student at LMU and the legacy he left behind.
     The book opens with a foreword by Bo Kimble, which provides the framework for the rest of the book because at the time these two friends did everything together.  The book is not about a tragedy, but rather about the triumph of Gathers' individual life and the team the team that fought for him after his death.  Anyone can say what it is that makes a player great: his determination, his athletic skills, his attitude.  But this book really explores what drove Hank Gathers from the beginning and that is what made him a great basketball player.  He wanted to get his mom and family out of the projects of North Philadelphia by getting into the NBA.  The book, at 364 pages, is all tied together by this.
     Unless you're a sports fanatic, the USC stuff is pretty boring and non-relatable.  It gets interesting when the Gathers and Kimble decide to go to LMU because  of "The System."  He would have to deal with people constantly asking him what LMU was and saying they were sorry that he wasn't playing at a "real school."  The book also did a great job explaining the System in an engaging and exciting analysis.  
     The night of Gathers' death is actually described in the middle of the book so that the emphasis shifts to the triumph of the Lions 1990 team and their NCAA tournament.  Keiderling does a lot of research for the book and breaks down Gathers' last game into moment by moment steps of what everybody who had anything to do with Gathers or the Lions, including Gerston himself, was doing watching the game.  However, the author argues very clearly that his death should not be the thing for which he is remembered for.
     Having being non-cognitive for this LMU season, I found that as a LMU student that the most fascinating aspect of the story revolved around their run to the Elite Eight.  For that time they were America's team.  No matter who was in their bracket, people wanted the Lions to succeed and were all over the sports world, including Sports Illustrated.  But not all the events after Gathers' death were stirring and inspirational.  The lawsuit that followed afterward tarnished LMU for years and is the reason why the gym has never been renamed after him.  All we have is Hank's House, and that is the name of the book's last chapter which explores what the LMU community is now twenty years later because of Gathers' time spent here.  The relevancy of this chapter is inescapable to any student no matter what the degree of his or her participation is in the school.  If nothing else, this book offers a portrait of an outstanding student who we all strive to imitate.


Heart of A Lion by Kyle Keiderling

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August 03, 2010
Great review, Steven. This sounds like a fantastic book, albeit being on a tragic story. By the way, since you're reviewing the book, I moved your review over from the Hank Gathers topic to the book topic ;)
August 04, 2010
thank you
About the reviewer

Ranked #3
So I've been in Cali my whole my life: San Fran, Sacramento, and now LA. Living anywhere outside of this state seems irreconcilable. I've been in and out of LMU for the last couple years and have come … more
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Books, Sports, Hank Gathers


ISBN-10: 0977899683
ISBN-13: 978-0977899685
Author: Kyle Keiderling
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: Morning Star Books
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