West Virginia University basketball legend Jerry West will be in Charleston to talk about his autobiography at the 11th annual West Virginia Book Festival this fall, just days after the book is published.
The autobiography, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,” co-authored by Jonathan Coleman, will be published by Little, Brown and Company on Oct. 19. Coleman may also be part of the Book Festival event.
In the book, West “turns his trademark intensity and focus in on himself and candidly narrates his difficult childhood in a small West Virginia mining community, his sometimes debilitating shyness, a damaging relationship with his father, and the haunting loss of a beloved brother. West reveals the personal hardships he faced during his life, including physical abuse and a lifelong little-known struggle with depression,” according to the publisher.
West was born and raised in eastern Kanawha County, and starred at East Bank High School before his WVU career. He led the Mountaineers to the final game of the NCAA tournament in 1959, and remains the leading scorer and rebounder in WVU basketball history. His 44 was the first basketball uniform number retired by WVU, and the road outside the WVU Coliseum was named Jerry West Boulevard in 2000.
He also served as co-captain of the American gold medal-winning basketball team at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, and played 14 seasons for the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers, winning a championship in 1972. He also coached the team for three seasons and served as their general manager for 18 years. The Lakers won four championships during his tenure as GM.
West also served as general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies from 2002 to 2007, and was named a consultant for the Golden State Warriors earlier this year.
His nicknames include “Mr. Clutch,” for his ability to perform under pressure, and “The Logo,” a reference to West’s silhouette in the iconic National Basketball Association symbol.
Best-selling and award-winning author Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher thriller series, had already been announced as the headliner for this year’s West Virginia Book Festival, which is set for Oct. 22 and 23 at the Civic Center.
Others who will attend include former Secret Service agents Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill; self-help author Dave Pelzer; Alex Flinn, author of nine novels for teenagers; Bonnie Stewart, author of a new book on the Farmington mine disaster; children’s illustrator and author Brian Floca; and Catherine Gourley, director of the national Letters About Literature program.
The festival is presented by The Library Foundation of Kanawha County Inc., the Kanawha County Public Library, the West Virginia Humanities Council, The Charleston Gazette and The Charleston Daily Mail and is sponsored by The Martha Gaines and Russell Wehrle Memorial Foundation, Segal-Davis Foundation, Pam Tarr and Gary Hart, Wal-Mart and Borders Express.