Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball

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Elgin Baylor was raised in Washington D.C. He and his friends would play stickball in the street because the parks were for whites only. At night, he and his friends would tunnel under the fences and go play basketball on a real court. When he was a teenager, there finally was a hoop for him and his friends to play. They had to play with other balls until they finally got a basketball. Elgin let his body do the talking on the court. He had moves like no one had ever seen before.

After high school, Elgin went to college at the College of Idaho and then later transferred to Seattle, where he led his team to the college championships. While there Rosa Parks, sat down and wouldn’t give up her seat, making the dawn of change. In 1958, he was chosen by the Minneapolis Lakers. Things were hard then because the NBA didn’t sell a lot of tickets. At the same time, another group was practicing sitting down at a counter in a white-only restaurant waiting to be served.

Elgin had a problem in West Virginia where they barely had a place to stay and then there were no restaurants that he could eat in. So, that night, Elgin sat out of the game, letting people know “I’m a human being. And I want to be treated like one.” Showing that sometimes you have to sit down to stand up. People noticed, and the NBA made a rule that they wouldn’t stay anywhere that practiced discrimination. In 1959, Elgin made rookie of the year, and two years later, the Lakers moved to Los Angeles. Elgin continued to do what he always did: show what he could do on the court.

Text: The text is longer, but it’s a non-fiction biography so it’s just right. I think Elgin Baylor is depicted very well. It was interesting to know some of the details of the struggles Elgin went through because he wasn’t white.

Illustrations: The illustrator outdid himself. These spreads are stunning. I love the feel of the book as a style that feels like a biography of an athlete, but also someone from the 1950s. They are detailed and bright.

Parent Perspective: I think this book is a must-have in the home or school library. It is a great book on showing how people were treated wasn’t right and needed to be corrected and how a great man and several others handled the situation to make it right. I also love how they handled the situation by sitting down to stand up.

Kid Perspective: My son likes basketball. He thinks it’s terrible that someone wouldn’t be allowed to play because of the color of their skin. He’s glad that Elgin Baylor helped changed the way he and others were treated.

Educational Perspective: This is an excellent biography of Elgin Baylor, but it also has great information on other historical aspects of ridding the United States of discrimination. I think it would be a great study for a unit or student project.

Age Recommendation: 6 to 12 years.


Reviewed By:

Author Jen Bryant
Star Count 5/5
Format hardcover
Page Count 40 pages
Publisher Harry N. Abrams
Publish Date 2020-Oct-06
ISBN 9781419741081
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2021
Category Children's
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