Jerry West Opens Up About His Life - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Jerry West Opens Up About His Life


Jerry West is many things to many people. He is a basketball legend at West Virginia University. He is a legend in Los Angeles. He is the NBA Logo. He is also a human being.

"I'm just hopeful that people, when they read this book, will realize I am a flawed person, period," West stated.

West met with the media prior to a question and answer session as part of the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas. West discussed his new book, West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life.

"That was an extremely difficult book to write," West said, "But something that I think should have been written because there are some lessons in there for people who have lived a life like I have lived."

West did not enjoy his childhood. He used basketball as an escape from his troubles at home. West's book certainly surprised some of his family.

"One of my sisters wrote me a note saying I didn't even know my brother," West said. "It's pretty sad when you are in a house and nobody knows who you are. Growing up where you are afraid to go home is not a fun thing."

West is not the typical great player you see today. He remains very humble, very thankful for the life he has led and cares deeply about the truth.

"I think sometimes you get tired of people embellishing who you are, not really knowing who you are," West stated. "I have had some incredible things said about me in my life as an athlete, some pretty raw things. I'm sure this book is going to illicit both good and bad and frankly I don't give a damn. I know who I am. I know who I want to be and I wish I could have been a different person."

West learned at an early age how to have the desire to be the best at anything he did. However, according to West, fatherhood was not something he excelled at.

"I have two families. One of them I am real proud of," West said. "As a father, when I was playing, I don't think I had any idea how to be a father. I had a routine in my life for 18 years and it started at West Virginia University. I had a routine and if I varied it in any way, shape or form I thought I was breaking a cardinal rule. Looking back at those days, maybe I didn't know how to be a father because frankly, I didn't have a father. I regret that. I really do regret that."

Another regret West discussed was not taking up coaching. He admits that he was not ready to be a coach once his playing days were over.

"My personality would never let me be a coach," West said. "Even though I had a wealth of knowledge to impart on kids. I disliked myself so much. I didn't know how to treat myself let alone kids who were there to learn and obviously try to live their dreams."

West definitely took the road less traveled. He lived a rough childhood. West found relief from it by playing basketball. That eventually led him to West Virginia University and the rest is history. But it was not the straightest, easiest road to travel.

"Have you ever seen a stray dog walking down the street?" West asked.  "If someone goes over to it, depending on how it was treated, it will either react with a bark or wag its fanny and all it wants is to be recognized or patted. At times in my life I felt like a stray dog."

West is no longer a stray. He says he understands his purpose in life. West wants to give back and that is the reason he wrote the book.

"I certainly wouldn't do something like this for money," West said. "I am fortunate enough to never write something that wouldn't be true anyway. There are a lot of things I have hidden in my life that I know a lot of us have experienced and frankly, don't want to talk about it. I have been the most blessed person in the world, yet I haven't really enjoyed a lot of the ride. That's for sure."

Do you want to get to know Jerry West better? This book will give you the background to what made him the player and person he is today. West wants to caution potential readers that it is not a fun book to read.

"I would love to say it is a light and cheery book, but it is not," West said. "It's serious."

A serious book for a man with serious hopes for youngsters in West Virginia.

"I would hope that for every West Virginia kid that they would think big, have goals and please have a vivid imagination."

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