The former basketball star, at 50 and not ready to retire:
"Once, the whole world watched him compete and win -- Game 6, the Delta Center -- and now it's a small group of friends in a hotel room playing a silly kid's game. The desire remains the same, but the venues, and the stakes, keep shrinking. For years he was beloved for his urges when they manifested on the basketball court, and now he's ridiculed when they show up in a speech."
"His self-esteem has always been, as he says, 'tied directly to the game.' Without it, he feels adrift. Who am I? What am I doing? For the past 10 years, since retiring for the third time, he has been running, moving as fast as he could, creating distractions, distance. When the schedule clears, he'll call his office and tell them not to bother him for a month, to let him relax and play golf. Three days later they'll get another call, asking if the plane can pick him up and take him someplace. He's restless. So he owns the Bobcats, does his endorsements, plays hours of golf, hoping to block out thoughts of 218. But then he gets off a boat, comes home to a struggling team. He feels his competitiveness kick in, almost a chemical thing, and he starts working out, and he wonders: Could he play at 50? What would he do against LeBron?"
PUBLISHED: Feb. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7955 words)
The new Ohio State football coach made a promise to his family that he'd put them first. Will he keep it?
"Eighty or so people filed into the school cafeteria. Urban and his wife, Shelley, joined their daughter at the front table, watching as Gigi stood and spoke. She'd been nervous all day, and with a room of eyes on her, she thanked her mother for being there season after season, year after year.
"Then she turned to her father.
"He'd missed almost everything. You weren't there, she told him.
"Shelley Meyer winced. Her heart broke for Urban, who sat with a thin smile, crushed. Moments later, Gigi high-fived her dad without making eye contact, then hugged her coach. Urban dragged himself back to the car. Then -- and this arrives at the guts of his conflict -- Urban Meyer went back to work, pulled by some biological imperative. His daughter's words ran through his mind, troubling him, and yet he returned to the shifting pixels on his television, studying for a game he'd either win or lose. The conflict slipped away. Nothing mattered but winning. Both of these people are in him -- are him: the guilty father who feels regret, the obsessed coach who ignores it. He doesn't like either one. He doesn't like himself, which is why he wants to change."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 8, 2012
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7279 words)
"The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala., because I lived 30 miles away, and I poisoned the two Toomer's trees. I put Spike 80DF in 'em." ... Harvey Updyke hung up the phone. He had just ruined his entire life in 62 words. Soon, the police would connect him with Al from Dadeville and nothing would ever be the same. "I'll [be] honest with you," he says. "I realized it was a bad idea when I was doing it. You know, I'm not stupid … "
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2011
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3021 words)
A white cross rising above the Macacos slum marks the spot where people are burned alive. A starving horse, his ribs poking out, is hitched close by with a thin rope. A nearby soccer field is dotted with pieces of melted rubber. No games are played here. The Amigos dos Amigos gang that runs this favela has a ritual: Members stack tires around their enemies, pour in gasoline and light the tires on fire. This is called microwaving. Black smoke rises into the air. At a school down the hill, near the famous soccer stadium where the 2016 Olympic opening ceremonies will be held, the students hear the screams and cover their ears. This is Rio in real life.
PUBLISHED: May 10, 2011
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5001 words)
The guy walking across the parking lot is famous. That's easy to tell from the reactions. Crowds part for him. Security guards mirror his every step. Other cricketers who made this same trip to the locker room tiptoed around the puddles. He strides over them, head up, confident. I am following an Indian cricket superstar, but I don't know who he is. That's the kind of trip this is going to be -- one of constant confusion and mystery. ... "Who is that?" He looks at me like I've got three heads. "Sachin Tendulkar." Oh.
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2011
LENGTH: 42 minutes (10736 words)
Muhammad Ali fought 50 men. Only one disappeared.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 17, 2009
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5381 words)
When I was 5 or 6, because of my dad's political activism in the Mississippi Delta, local white supremacists burned a cross in our front yard. My parents had a decision to make: Wake me up or let me sleep. They chose sleep. On that night, hate and fear would not be passed to another generation.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 1, 2009
LENGTH: 59 minutes (14947 words)