In My Skin: My Life on and off the Basketball Court by Brittney Griner with Sue Hovey

In My Skin chronicles Brittney Griner‘s life growing up in Houston, Texas and her emergence as one of the most recognizable and talented stars of women’s college and professional basketball. Her book is my latest in the LUYC my reading escapade series.

Griner describes growing up ostracized and bullied by her peers because she was considered unusual looking for a girl (i.e. tall, masculine, a tomboy). When Griner was recruited by Baylor University, this was a signal that basketball was a place where her size, strength, and athletic abilities were embraced. Throughout Griner also describes being such a dominant force on the court that many teams strategically fouled her in order to undermine her game.

Being a successful athlete who is openly lesbian, Griner spends much of the book describing this experience as a paradox. For instance, in college, Griner was encouraged by her coach to keep her sexuality “private” so as to reflect a “positive” image of Baylor (whose policies are rooted in Christianity). The resentment and anger at being put in this position is candidly discussed.

While the writing of In My Skin is quite simplistic, the messaging is really important. Self-love, honesty, resilience, authenticity, and strength of character are what Griner wants us to take away from her story. She recognizes her position as a role model for women athletes, especially those who are LGBTQ identified, and writes her story specifically for this audience, which is generous and really impressive. It made me appreciate her, and the book, all the more.