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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
Nate Branch: Playing My Way Through Life is an autobiography by former Harlem Globetrotter Nate Branch with Barry Kienzle. Branch played for the iconic exhibition basketball team for fifteen years, from 1967 when he was recruited after he left college, to 1983 when he was abruptly dropped from the team after illegal drugs were found in his luggage. Branch denied knowledge of the drugs and believes they were planted. Although the narrative is heavily focused on his years with the Globetrotters, it fully covers his life before and after that era with a special focus on his abiding love for music. Excerpts from lyrics he has written and several photographs are included as well as a foreword by Dave Newhouse, a former sportswriter for the Oakland Tribune.
In Nate Branch: Playing My Way Through Life, Nate Branch and Barry Kienzle give us both the biography of a man whose first love in life was music but who played basketball simply because he was good at it, and an unvarnished look at the inner workings of the Harlem Globetrotters from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. This included the team’s 1971 strike over poor working conditions. The story is written in a straightforward, conversational tone. Branch presents himself as an imperfect man with a natural talent who was allowed to do things, go places, and meet people he could never have dreamed of in his boyhood. “Who could ask for a more rewarding life?” he asks. “God has smiled on me!” An interesting and eye-opening read.