Sportswriter, Charbonneau resident pens book about Blazer legend
Charbonneau resident and former Portland Tribune columnist Kerry Eggers' latest book focuses on the life and career of Portland Trail Blazers legend Jerome Kersey.
The book, "Jerome Kersey: Overcoming the Odds," details Kersey's time growing up in a small town in Virginia, his initial relative basketball obscurity, ascension to the NBA and key role on the Blazers NBA Finals teams in 1992 and 1993.
"I think they'll (readers) be inspired by his story, especially young guys who have aspirations," Eggers said. "I think anybody who enjoyed watching him play will enjoy the book. I think I (talked) to a lot of people who knew him well. I was able to provide an accurate picture of the player and person Jerome Kersey was."
Eggers, who has written eight books including on the "Jail Blazers" and Clyde Drexler, said the inspiration for this one came from an old friend of Kersey's who had started a book on him many years ago. Instead of completing the book as he was initially asked, Eggers wrote his own.
Eggers said this was the hardest book he has ever written because Kersey was no longer alive to interview. Kersey died in 2015 due to a blood clot that formed during knee surgery. However, the longtime sportswriter had interviewed Kersey many times during his career and also was able to rely on interviews conducted by Longwood University (where Kersey attended school) Sports information Director Hoke Currie.
Eggers said he interviewed over 80 people including Kersey's family members, former NBA greats like Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Drexler, childhood friends and others.
"He was very popular with every level from the time he was a kid, to Longwood, to his time with the Blazers," Eggers said. "He was a good teammate. He was universally thought of very well. You couldn't find anyone who thought he was big headed or egotistical. … Everyone felt he was a pretty humble, level-headed guy."
In the book, Eggers documents Kersey's time being raised by his grandparents, who had seven kids of their own.
"He didn't have a lot, but had a lot of love around him," Eggers said.
Kersey grew 4 inches between his senior year of high school and freshman year of college and eventually was selected in the second round of the NBA draft. Eggers notes in the book that legendary Blazers coach Jack Ramsay wanted to send Kersey to Europe but Kersey declined. He made the team his first year and became a regular starter by his fourth season.
During his time reporting, Eggers said Kersey was one of the few players who not only read stories written about him but would discuss them with him.
"There were times he disagreed with what I wrote about. I actually appreciated that. We had a good back and forth," Eggers said.
As a basketball player, Eggers described Kersey as a "glue guy," someone who would do all the dirty work to help his team win. Kersey also would defend some of the best players in the league admirably, rebound at an elite level and score as many as 19 points per game in his 11 years in Portland.
"He was a guy who played better during the playoffs than the regular season. That doesn't happen very often," Eggers said.
Following his career, Kersey stayed close to Portland and served as the director of alumni relations for the Blazers at the time of his death. Eggers noted that Kersey used to gather food that was thrown away in the Moda Center suites and hand it out to homeless people.
"That tells you a little bit about the type of guy he was," Eggers said.
And Eggers described his death as shocking, especially considering Kersey's durability. He had never had surgery before the fatal one, Eggers noted.
"He was a guy that seemed indestructible," he said.
The book currently is available on Amazon.com and will be in bookstores.
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