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A Kind of Grace

Jackie is known throughout the world as the best female athlete ever - the winner of six Olympic medals, three of them gold; the current world-record holder in the heptathlon (the women's version of the male decathlon); the one-time world-record holder in the long jump; and an All-America basketball player. She grew up in East St. Louis in a house "little more than wallpaper and sticks." Her parents were poor teenagers when they married. She made her first long-jump pit in her backyard from borrowed playground sand. One of her first performances went unrecorded because of the color of her skin. Yet Jackie not only had an innate ability to conquer speed and distance, but possessed an irrepressible personality and a deep, unshakable love of sport. As she harnessed her talents, Jackie began an amazing string of multisport successes. In the midst of it all, she would try to hold her family together after her mother's tragic early death (Mary was only 37), and face her own devastating grief. As she climbed the dizzying heights of international and Olympic competition, she would face relentless media attention that escalated when she married Bob Kersee, her enormously successful - and controversial - coach. As she reached her profession's peak, she would battle life-threatening asthma, unfounded accusations of drug-induced performance enhancement, and recurring injuries. Ultimately, she would unite her experience and determination to achieve the most meaningful victories of all - those that shape and build lives beyond the field.
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