Soccer is probably the world's most popular spectator sport. Yet Major League Soccer, a professional league in the United States, has never received much attention even though millions of youngsters enjoy the game on playgrounds and in organized leagues. Hoping to change that situation, in 2007 the Los Angeles Galaxy signed superstar David Beckham to a five-year, $250 million contract. The league hoped that his celebrity status will help make soccer more appealing in the United States. Beckham's arrival did boost the profile of soccer, and he helped the Galaxy win several league championships. But David Beckham is more than just a superb soccer player. He contributes time and money to charity to try to save lives in the poorest parts of the world. And he encourages youngsters to enjoy soccer as much as he does through academies he has opened across the globe.
All of his life, Dwyane Wade has been meeting challenges. His parents separated when he was an infant. When he was six, he had to leave his mother's home because of her drug abuse. While living with his father, Dwyane learned basketball but not academics. Because of Dwyane's low test scores, only three colleges recruited him. But after starring for two seasons at Marquette University, Dwyane left college early to enter the NBA draft in 2003. Although Dwyane was overshadowed in the draft by superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the young star has put together an exceptional NBA career. He led Miami to an NBA championship in 2006, won a scoring title in 2009, and was a key player when the Heat won a second championship in 2012. But Dwyane also remembers his roots, giving back to the community through his charitable Wade's World Foundation.
In his 20 years as a NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon has established himself as one of the greatest drivers in the sports history. Jeff has won four championships and more than $100 million in his career. He ranks among the top drivers on the all-time wins list with more than 80 victories. This book details Jeffs many successes, both on and off the racetrack. It discusses how he rose to NASCAR fame, from his first BMX bike to his famous number 24 car. Along with his championship titles, Jeff has won the Daytona 500 three times and many other famed races. Off the track Jeff is involved with several charitable organizations. His achievements have amazed NASCAR fans, and he's not yet ready to slow down.
Many basketball experts consider Michael Jordan the greatest player in the history of the game. During his 15 seasons in the NBA, Michael was voted the league's Most Valuable Player six times. He was the league's leading scorer for a record 10 times. And, most important, he led his team, the Chicago Bulls, to six NBA championship titles. But Michael Jordan is much more than a basketball legend. Through his winning personality, his sense of style, and his many product endorsements - along with his on-court heroics - Michael became one of the most recognized personalities in the entire world. He helped define what it meant to be cool for a generation of kids. Today Michael remains involved in the NBA as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. By supporting a variety of charities, he continues to be a role model as well.
Sheryl Swoopes established herself as one of the best basketball players in the world while she was still in college at Texas Tech. In 1997 she was the first player signed to a new all-women's professional basketball league, the WNBA. During her career in the WNBA, Sheryl led her team to four championships, was voted Most Valuable Player three times, and was a perennial player in the annual All-Star game. She also earned three Olympic gold medals while playing for the U.S. national team. Sheryl is one of the most decorated basketball players in history, but she is also a role model for young people everywhere. This book details Sheryl's many successes, both on and off the court, and discusses how she became one of the best and most influential basketball players.
Tim Duncan might just be the greatest power forward in NBA history, and strangely enough, he almost never learned how to play the game. Duncan's first love was swimming, but when a devastating hurricane left his training area in polluted ruins, he turned to basketball. Hard work and a great talent for the game would take him on a journey from his hometown of Christiansted in the Virgin Islands to Wake Forest and ultimately to the San Antonio Spurs. Duncan has led the Spurs to four championships, winning the NBA Final's Most Valuable Player award on three occasions. He has been chosen for the NBA's All-Star team 13 times, and was named the league MVP in 2002 and 2003. Despite his quiet demeanor, Tim has become a dominant force on the hardwood. He has also found success away from the game in family life with his wife Amy and their two children, as well as in his work with the Tim Duncan Foundation.
Venus and Serena Williams grew up in Compton, California where they sometimes heard gunfire as they learned how to play tennis at a local playground. As teenagers, they grew into athletic women whose powerful serves often overwhelmed their opponents. In time, each sister would climb to the top rankings of international women's tennis. They have also maintained interests off the court; Venus has become a successful interior designer, while Serena has taken several acting roles and also designs women's fashions. But there have been dark days for the two sisters as well. Both have had to deal with racism, and to endure nagging injuries that have sidelined them for months. They also experienced the tragedy of a sister murdered on the streets of Compton. Venus and Serena have stayed competitive, however, and each is committed to remaining among the best players on the women's tennis tour for many more years.