FINDING THE EDGE OF LEGEND
When people ask me what The Edge of Legend is about I tell them, yeah, it’s about faith and basketball and an underdog conquering the world and a son and his father and a relentless pursuit of redemption that’ll move you to tears, and all that. But I also tell them that it’s about a guy who was chasing a vision from God, a dream for his life, that went completely to crap.
It’s about how a guy putting his life back together after his dreams fall to pieces.
For many of us, failure is like the world ending. I know. I lived that for about four years. And that is, in part, why I wrote the book. This guy’s story helped me find my life.
I graduated from college in May 2009 with a B.S. in journalism. Five years earlier, I’d decided to go to Barton College because I felt like it gave me the best chance at making it as a pro baseball player. I wasn’t wrong; my brother followed me there, and he got drafted by the Yankees last summer.
I threw myself into it, obsessively working out and working on my game. I went from 175 pounds to 210 with just 8 percent body fat. I became a stud.
Only problem was, come game time, I couldn’t perform. I was terrified. And, predictably, my career fizzled out. It crushed me.
On top of that, I’d be graduating into the worst job market in American history for college graduates.
So, in one pocket I had pieces of my broken dream, and in the other, this story I knew of this guy Ant. Baseball all but dead to me, I set a new goal: Write for Sports Illustrated or ESPN The Magazine, the nation’s two largest sports magazines. I set an absurd deadline: Land an assignment with them within two years of graduation.
I believed this book could help get me there. And so I threw myself into writing the way I’d thrown myself into baseball. I devoured books on writing and books like the one I was trying to write. I studied, working 14-hour days reading and taking notes and diagramming storylines and outlining chapters.
And, in a fit of insanity, yet without a book deal, I turned down a couple of full-time journalism jobs to work on the book. I decided to try to make it as a freelancer.
I consulted elite authors, soaking in their advice and considering their criticisms. “Are you sure you want to do this?” one asked. “Writing books takes years off your life.” He encouraged me to pursue other things.
I forged on. I always tell people it’s because I believed in the story. That is true. But there was something else urging me forward. Something inside me. Denzel Washington’s character in the movie The Book of Eli described it as a voice he heard inside of him. It was like that.
We call it faith. I was writing a book about faith; I was living in faith that it would find an audience.
A year and a half after I started, it did.
I got a book deal, and The Edge of Legend was published in September 2010 by Port City Publishing. It was praised by national magazines and nationally known authors such as Jeff Pearlman and Will Leitch. Pearlman, a New York Times bestselling author and columnist for Sports Illustrated, said the story was “So otherworldly it absolutely has to be told” and said that I did “A masterful job” and that the book was “A must-read.”
Leitch, an author and columnist for New York magazine, said, “It’s like all great American stories: Unlikely, inspiring, and sadly untold. But no longer. Brandon Sneed gives Anthony’s story the care and platform it deserves.” SLAM, a national basketball magazine, said, “As The Edge of Legend illustrates, the NBA doesn’t own all of the best basketball stories … An enjoyable read.”
You can read all about the story told in the book and read some excerpts at EdgeOfLegend.com, and you can learn all about me at BrandonSneed.com, so I won’t waste time with all that.
What’s important is that God came through. May 2011 marks two years since I graduated from college. I’m now working on my first major assignment for ESPN The Magazine.
It’s not the end; it’s not my whole vision. But it’s part of it.
(Now, go order a copy so I can keep enjoying life’s luxuries, like, you know, food. Order online at Amazon.com from Port City Publishing for an autographed edition.)
Brandon Sneed is a freelance journalist living in Wilmington, NC. He is the author of The Edge of Legend: An Incredible Story of Faith and Basketball (Port 2010). He blogs at brandonsneed.com and is @brandonsneed on Twitter.