By Louise Mulock ’25
On November 6, critically acclaimed narrative nonfiction writer, Andrew Maraniss, came to speak at our biannual event, In Celebration of Books. In his debut book, Strong Inside, he explores the life of Perry Wallace, the first Black basketball player in the Southeastern Conference at Vanderbilt University, combining his love of sports with his admiration for those who broke through social barriers.
Discovering at a young age his passion for writing, Mr. Maraniss later went on to become his high school’s sports editor. One day, he came across an ad for a scholarship created for up-and-coming sport novelists, and months after applying, he found out that he won a full ride to Vanderbilt University. His time there inspired his first biography, centered around the very halls he walked.
Mr. Maraniss shared he was “not just interested in the score or the statistics or the game, but the people involved also.” Exploring the rich histories of each of his subjects, he begins his book projects with years of research, before ever writing a single word.
His biographies continue to collect recognition with countless awards, such as the 2015 Lillian Smith Book Award and Special Recognition at the 2015 RFK Book Awards for Strong Inside, the 2020 Sydney Taylor Honor Award for his second work, Games of Deception, and much more accompanying his later books. Mr. Maraniss is a true role model, beautifully combining personal passions with the social confines that have affected many. His words illustrate the inequalities that have marred the experiences of many famous athletes.