It was only a few weeks into my collegiate wrestling career. I remember shooting for my training partner’s leg. Then, nothing.
I woke up on my back in the wrestling room with my coach and trainer standing over me.
How many concussions I had had leading up to that one, I honestly couldn’t tell you. It must have been double digits, though.
I’d always felt I was a better football player than wrestler. But after several concussions, taking a wrestling scholarship seemed like the safer bet. My previous head injuries had almost all come from football.
All my life I had been an athlete. In high school, I played every sport I could. If I wasn’t moving, I wasn’t happy. It was all I’d really known.
But on that day, just weeks before my 18th birthday, it was all taken away from me.
With my history of head injuries, the doctors told me it was in my best interest to retire. And at that point, it was hard to argue. I had constant headaches. I struggled to pay attention in class. Words floated and danced around on pages when I tried to read. How I was supposed to succeed in university like this was beyond me.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had no identity. And suddenly I had nothing but time on my hands as I couldn’t practice or workout.
I filled that time by doing what everyone else did – drinking alcohol. A lot of it.
The next three years of my life were tough. I did a lot of stupid things I wish I could take back. I went from the quiet, polite kid with good grades, to a complete ass.
I became an aggressive, selfish jerk.
Oddly enough, people seemed to enjoy hanging out with me more during this phase. It used to be interceptions and gold medals that had people cheering. Now it was the ridiculous stunts I’d pull while under the influence. Go figure.
Thankfully I had a couple of great friends who kept me under control as best they could. My friend Billy, in particular, wouldn’t hesitate to tell me when I was crossing the line.
If it wasn’t for meeting my wife when I did, though, it’s hard to say if I’d have ever turned my life around.
Samira liked me for me. I didn’t have to put on a show or pretend to be someone else. I didn’t have to do crazy, ridiculous things to get her attention. As our relationship grew, I felt comfortable being quiet and polite again. She fixed me.
To this day, when I’m with her, I don’t have to be anything but me.
And I love her for that.
I’m telling you this because there’s no doubt in my mind that my wife changed my life and made me a better person. She did for me what I believe Pound The Stone can do for a lot of other young men.
Pound The Stone is not a “great book”. It’s not going to win any literary awards. And due to the number of pop culture references, it may be irrelevant in ten years. Which is unfortunate. But it is the book I absolutely needed as a seventeen-year-old kid looking for his place in the world.
It’s a story about a high-school basketball player named Jason. It’s a very easy read with short chapters, making it something a teenager may actually dive in to.
Jason sees many highs and lows through high school. He always feels sorry for himself and thinks he deserves better.
Despite his natural talent, Jason gets kicked off the basketball team due to character issues. He learns that he must earn his way back on to the court. This sets off a chain of events that changes who he is, his outlook on life, and what he thinks it means to be a man.
Through different mentors, Jason learns many valuable lessons. In most of the chapters, Jason is taught basic concepts and values from other popular books. For example, there are chapters on “Grit“, “Extreme Ownership“, “Sweeping the Sheds“, and “You, Inc.“.
Jason learns what it takes to be great, how to earn respect, how to lead, and that there is more to life than basketball. Important lessons for all men.
Reading Pound The Stone is almost as valuable as reading a dozen other books. Especially for young men. The key messages are shared in a way that makes it easy for Jason, and us as the reader, to relate and understand.
I listened to this audiobook while rucking the past couple of weeks. And even though the story is a bit jumbled at times, I actually found myself choking up on a few occasions. I wasn’t exactly emotionally invested in the story, but I couldn’t help thinking, “I wish someone would have told me that,” more than once.
This book would have been invaluable during my most difficult years.
My experiences are far from unique. Details will vary, but nearly everyone I know has gone through difficult times. Some much more difficult than mine. While I was fortunate to find people to steer me back on track, others are not so lucky.
It’s tough as parents.
When I was a teenager my parents couldn’t tell me anything. I knew it all.
We want to be there for our kids and help guide them. I try to share my experiences, and lessons I’ve learned the hard way, as much as possible. But sometimes the message means more when it comes from someone, or something, else.
The lessons in Pound The Stone are extremely valuable. They’re presented in a way that is understandable and relatable. It’s everything we want our teenage sons to know, coming from something much cooler than us.
This book belongs on the bookshelves of young men everywhere.