Balancing It All And Standing Tall
by Elena Delle Donne
Simon & Schuster
YA Non-Fiction / YA Sports
Elena Delle Donne, 2015 WNBA MVP and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, shares her inspirational story of being a young basketball prodigy who gave up an impressive basketball scholarship for family and self-discovery.
Elena Delle Donne has always forged her own path. During her first year of college, she walked away from a scholarship and chance to play for Geno Aurriema at UConn—the most prestigious women’s college basketball program—so she could stay in her home state of Delaware and be close to her older sister, Lizzie, who has several disabilities and can only communicate through hand-over-hand signing.
Burned out and questioning her passion for basketball, she attended the University of Delaware and took up volleyball for a year. Eventually she found her way back to her first love, playing basketball for the Blue Hens, ultimately leading them, a mid-major team, to the Sweet Sixteen. She went on to become the second overall selection during the 2013 WNBA draft and the WNBA’s 2015 MVP.
Elena Delle Donne delivers a powerful and motivational story of overcoming the challenges of competitive sports through balancing hard work and the support of a loving family.
This is an autobiography from Elena Delle Donne, a very successful women's basketball player. I wasn't aware of who she was until I read her books, and I'm not usually an avid reader of autobiographies. It's an interesting read and has many moments, which teens (especially those strongly involved with sports or other activities) can relate to.
The book starts with the early years, and the first chapter mostly concentrates on Elena Delle Donne's family, especially her sister, Lizzie. It offers a very personal look into her life and sets a great basis for the rest of the book. Although there are some differences which immediately separate Elena Delle Donne from the average Joe—having a personal basketball trainer already in the 2nd grade—it does gain enough of a personal touch to make her reachable.
While this mostly concentrates on her basketball life, which is natural, she has encountered many obstacles such as burn-out, Lyme disease, Mono, suicide and even a coming out. The writing flows naturally and has some humorous as well as serious moments, and while it's a bit long, the pacing holds nicely. There's a bit of a lack on the personal side outside of basketball, which especially becomes evident when moments like a friend's suicide occur, although this friend was never mentioned before.
All in all, it's nicely written. Especially teens who are strongly engaged in sports and other activities will relate to several moments, and maybe find some inspiration.
And here she is. . .
Elena Delle Donne has been a professional women's basketball player since 2013, when she was selected by the Chicago Sky second overall in the WNBA draft. She was the 2015 WNBA MVP and won the gold medal with the USA's women's basketball team in the 2016 Olympics. She is the global ambassador for the Special Olympics and became the first national ambassador for the Lyme Research Alliance. Elena also plays host to Delle Donne Academy, a basketball camp that runs throughout the year, where she mentors and coaches girls ages seven to eighteen. She now plays for the Washington, DC, Mystics.