Coach George Raveling was a pioneer and innovator in American sports, living many lives as a college basketball player and coach, Fox News Sports and CBS broadcaster, and at the request of Phil Knight himself, joined Nike. He started out as Director of Grass Roots Basketball, Director of Global Marketing, and at 70 years old, promoted again to the international director of basketball at Nike (instrumental in signing the former Adidas-man, Michael Jordan). He’s in several Halls of Fame, has a lot of awards, but if you’re not into sports (like us), just know that he’s the big deal in basketball.
He was the first African-American basketball coach at Villanova University, Washington State, University of Maryland, University of Iowa, and USC. He is revered among many and at 80, still has the energy and eagerness to learn as that of a college student. The man has a life full of stories that could keep you on the edge of your seat for at least a few days, including the legendary saga of how he came across the original copy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Yes… brought on as a security guard by a friend’s father at the March on Washington for civil rights, King Jr. finished his speech, and on impulse, Coach asked for the speech.
His father died when Coach was nine and his mother was institutionalized when he was 13. His guide in life was his grandmother, with a driving force being his academics.
Coach’s hobbies are collecting books and friends. Since his friends are not as accessible as his books, here are a few of the ones that he’s been recommending lately among the (literal) thousands that he’s read over the years:
The Obstacle is the Way has become a cult classic, beloved by people around the world who apply its wisdom to become more successful at whatever they do. The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring adversity with perseverance. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher.
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
This was Coach's intro to Isaacson’s biographies, which he found “utterly fascinating”, loving his writing style, highlighting almost ¾ of the entire book. He was hooked and moved onto his other biographies on Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, both of which blew him away. (Raveling's Notes, Tim Ferriss Podcast)
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