I was at the library with the kids a couple weeks ago perusing titles in the biography section when one caught my eye. It was Jim Nantz's book, "Always By My Side: A Father's Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other."
As a fan of pretty much all sports, and recognizing the broadcaster's name, I decided to give it a shot. I thought it would be interesting to hear some of the behind the booth stories that Nantz must have to offer. I was not disappointed.
In the book Nantz interweaves the story of his rise to broadcasting prominence with the story of his father's battle with Alzheimer's. Repeatedly Nantz recognizes his father as the most important influence in his life and then ties the lessons from his father with his career experiences.
It is clear that Nantz has a deep love for his father. As a reader you can feel the sadness as Nantz details how his father goes from a strong man full of wisdom and love, to, as he is described in the book, 'a tortured shell of a human, a nearly emptied vessel.'
The sports side of the book is very entertaining and laced with anecdotes from celebrities in golf, football and many other sports. Nantz offers glimpses into the lives of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nickalus, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, and many others. Nantz also shares many stories of his interactions with broadcasting colleagues and two former Presidents.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It felt like a great mix of personal reflection and sports. Nantz comes across as a passionate and generous man. I look forward to hearing him on air again soon.