Monday, March 24, 2014

Driven: From Homeless to Hero, My Journeys On and Off Lambeau Field by Donald Driver

Let's face it, even if you aren't a football fanatic, if you live in Wisconsin, it is 99.9% percent likely that you are a Packer fan.  I fall into that category.  I don't watch them consistently; in fact, I have a self-regulated "banned" status since they tend to lose if I watch.  That said, Donald Driver has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I heard about his foundation work with struggling families and children.  When I later learned that he had written some children's books about "Quickie," his childhood namesake, I knew he was a good role model.  When I taught internet research skills to fifth graders, I often used Donald as the "subject" of our searches.  When Packer nation was in a tumultuous uproar about Brett Favre's on/off retirement status,  Driver was often interviewed and I admired his tactful loyalty to both his friend Favre and the Packers. And when Driver became a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, let's just say I became a dedicated viewer of the show!  Like many fans, I was disappointed that he didn't play much his last season with GB but was pleased with the team/fan tribute to him after the season close.  Throughout that fall, I watched a local GB television show The Better Half which features Packer wives and girlfriends.  Betina Driver was a co-host and seeing her talk about their family life increased my interest in the couple.

So, OF COURSE, when Donald's autobiography Driven was published I wanted to read it.  As I said in an earlier post, I was on a long, long list of patrons wanting to borrow the book from the library system.  It was the book I took with me to read on our recent vacation, and it was a good choice.  The book was easy to pick up, read a chapter or two, and then leave for other activities.  Much of the book centers on Donald's early days in Texas.  Donald and his siblings were raised mainly by their mother and paternal grandparents.  Donald's father was in and out of their lives, mostly out.  For a few years, a stepfather provided some stability, but when that marriage ended, so did the stability.  For a short time the family was homeless, and while Donald's mother worked hard to support them, she was absent. leaving Donald, his brother, cousins, and neighbors to regularly sell drugs.  For years, Donald kept selling, but not using himself, and only quit after he meet Betina in college.  Although Donald doesn't write extensively about his wife and family, what he chooses to share indicates a man who works to keep his marriage strong and his family secure.

One of the things I liked best about Donald's book is that he really downplays his own talent, instead concentrates on telling a wider story of his life.  Even when his disappointment over his final years of playing  is evident, he does not bad mouth anyone.  This is not a book that will break the Packer organization open with scandal, and I appreciate that.  There is something very honorable about Driver and his decision to be a Packer only.  I miss his smile in Packer nation and hope he continues a strong charitable presence in our state.  I would love to see him on a national sports show or in some other aspect of the public eye.

This book would be a great gift for a Packer fan; the book is an easy read and will fill some of those empty hours waiting for summer football camp and preseason games.

PS.  No matter where you go, you will find Packer fans.  Case in point, as I was waiting outside a beach restroom on Anna Maria Island this past week, a lady in a pink Packers shirt walked by me.
I quickly asked her if she was from Wisconsin.  She replied no, but that her husband had been.  Within seconds, I knew he had grown up a town over from where I had, and that they still had relatives in GB.  GO Pack!

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