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Days of Grace.

When USA Today threatened to "out" the late Arthur Ashe--forcing him to reveal he had contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion after a heart bypass operation--it inspired him to pen his memoir, Days of Grace.

Published posthumously, this wonderfully written volume isn't a trite recollection of old sports stories. Ashe was more than just a sports figure. Churning out more than 300 pages between June 1992 and his death last February, he writes movingly about race, politics, his role as a black tennis pro, his family, morality and AIDS.

He steers us through his segregated childhood in Richmond, Va., and recalls being the first black to play on, and later serve as captain of, the U.S. Davis Cup team. Tennis was his refuge and helped shield him from the average black man's struggle in America.

"Was I trying to make up, with my antiapartheid crusade, for my relative inaction a decade or more earlier during the civil-rights struggle?" he wonders. "While blood was running freely in the streets of Birmingham, Memphis and Biloxi, I was playing tennis."

The epilogue titled "My Dear Camera" is a moving letter to his 7-year-old daughter. "I may not be around to discuss with you what I have written here...Wherever I am when you feel sick at heart and weary of life, or when you stumble and fall and don't know if you can get up again, think of me. I will be watching and smiling and cheering you on," he declares in this poignant testament.

When Ashe found out he had AIDS, he accepted it as gracefully as anyone could. "God's will alone matters," he writes. "When I played tennis, I never prayed for victory in a match. I will not pray now to be cured of heart disease or AIDS."

It is this selflessness that makes losing him to such a horrible disease even more unsettling.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Robinson, Frederick D.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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