A Life Impossible: Living with ALS: Finding Peace and Wisdom Within a Fragile Existence (Hardcover)

A Life Impossible: Living with ALS: Finding Peace and Wisdom Within a Fragile Existence By Steve Gleason, Jeff Duncan Cover Image
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From NFL player Steve Gleason, a powerful, inspiring memoir of love, heartbreak, resilience, family, and remarkable triumph in the face of ALS

"Gleason is a symbol of resilience, hope and optimism.” —The New York Times • "Steve Gleason has changed the world." –Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner • "An extraordinary book...A Life Impossible will change the way people cope, think, and live." –Mike Lupica, co-author with James Patterson of 12 Months to Live

In 2011, three years after leaving the NFL, Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal disease that takes away the ability to move, talk, and breathe. Doctors gave him three years to live. He was thirty-three years old. As Steve says, he is now ten years past his expiration date.

His memoir is the chronicle of a remarkable life, one filled with optimism and joy, despite the trauma and pain and despair he has experienced. Writing using eye-tracking technology, Gleason covers his pre-ALS life through the highs and lows of his NFL career with the New Orleans Saints, where he made one of the most memorable plays in Saints history, leading to a victory in the first post-Katrina home game, uplifting the city, making him a hero, and reflected in a nine-foot bronze statue outside the Superdome. Then came his heartbreaking diagnosis. Gleason lost all muscle function, he now uses Stephen Hawking-like technology to communicate, and breathes with the help of a ventilator. This book captures Gleason and his wife Michel’s unmatched resilience as they reinvent their lives, refuse to succumb to despair, and face his disease realistically and existentially.

This unsparing portrait argues that a person's true strength does not reside solely in one’s body but also in the ability to face unfathomable adversity and still be able to love and treasure life.

About the Author

STEVE GLEASON played eight years for the New Orleans Saints and, in 2011, was diagnosed with ALS. Shortly after his diagnosis, he founded Team Gleason, a foundation that has been a leader in raising awareness of the disease and improving the lives of those affected by it. Steve also helped found Answer ALS, the largest and most comprehensive ALS research platform in history. He has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the most prestigious civilian honor Congress can bestow, has passed two laws, received the NCAA Inspiration Award, ESPY's Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, and in 2014, he was named Sports Illustrated Inspiration of the Year. He lives with his wife, Michel, and their two children in New Orleans.
JEFF DUNCAN, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is a sports columnist for
the New Orleans Times-Picayune and was a member of the team that won two Pulitzer Prizes for the paper’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina. He is the author of Payton and Brees, Tales from the New Orleans Saints Sideline, and From Bags to Riches.

Praise For…

Praise for Steve Gleason and A Life Impossible

"Steve and Michel Gleason have helped ease suffering and restore hope for countless families grappling with ALS. In the face of unrelenting adversity, they’re teaching us all what it means to show up and fight for others." —Bill Gates

"Steve Gleason stands for hope, and he stands for infinite possibilities.” –Drew Brees, former New Orleans Saints quarterback

“Steve Gleason has proven to be a great man, a great partner and father, and a truly great competitor. . . . His battles are daily and his victories are to be celebrated. . . . The same goes for this book. It is not written by a mere mortal, but a true hero whose wisdom is hard-earned and his generosity a public service. I love and admire him, deeply.” —Eddie Vedder

"[An] equally devastating and inspiring new memoir. . . . If there is one thing that A Life Impossible makes repeatedly clear, it is that while Steve Gleason is indefatigable, he is not tireless. . . . Gleason makes no secret of the suffering necessary to reach even fragmentary moments of wisdom and acceptance. His book doesn’t just gesture to the wilderness in which Gleason has done his time, but makes you feel every thorn. . . .  [A Life Impossible] will not be an ordinary ex-athlete’s inspirational memoir. Instead, A Life Impossible is about Gleason’s search for peace through philosophy and spirituality, but it also demands that the reader bear witness to the blunt realities of his day-to-day life. . . . [The Watermelon Sacrifice] is also where he met his wife, Michel Varisco Gleason, beginning a great and difficult love story that is the emotional heart of A Life Impossible.” –Brett Martin, GQ

"An unflinching memoir. . . . More than a decade after learning he had A.L.S. at the age of 33, Gleason has survived with the help of faith, resilience and the support of his wife, Michel, who has endured her own share of suffering. I greatly admire “A Life Impossible” — its unflinching honesty and candor. . . . ‘My body is a prison,’ Gleason writes. ‘I face insurmountable adversity each day, yet my family and I are able to survive within this miraculous, wonderful life. And I have learned to accept things that are out of my control, to transform suffering into strength.’. . . The most moving parts of the book are the journal entries and emails between Gleason and his wife. . . . Ultimately. . . Gleason is a symbol of resilience, hope and optimism.” —Buzz Bissinger, The New York Times

"Steve Gleason has, in the face of some extraordinarily bad luck, become one of the world’s most inspiring people. Each day, he demonstrates that a mind imprisoned within a failing body can still live in freedom. This is a possibility that most of us can barely understand—and yet we at once recognize it to be an expression of the deepest love and highest wisdom." –Sam Harris, New York Times bestselling author, host of the Making Sense podcast, and creator of the Waking Up app

"Steve Gleason has led an extraordinary life, and this is an extraordinary book. It is searingly honest, and doesn’t gloss over anything, including the effect ALS has had on his mind, his body, his marriage, and his family. But what should be sad somehow becomes inspiring, and even, in a unique way, joyous and triumphant. A Life Impossible will change the way people cope, think, and live." –Mike Lupica; New York Daily News columnist, co-author with James Patterson of 12 Months to Live

“Steve Gleason has changed the world for a lot of people and literally given a voice to people who didn’t have a voice.” –Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

"The minute I met Steve and Michel, I knew it would change my life and the lives of millions around the world. Steve has a vision for the role of technology as part of the human experience, and it’s our collective responsibility to bring that vision to life." Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft

"Gleason’s bluntly candid memoir opens with his care crew’s grueling one- to two-hour routine to prepare him for the day ahead “because I can no longer move, talk, or breathe.” In 2011, the author was diagnosed with ALS; defying the typical five-year life expectancy, he survives today. . . . After dramatically depicting his career highlights, Gleason writes frankly about finding motivation now through his children, his faith, and the defiant spirit of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, which “inspires and motivates me every morning.” The author intimately portrays the evolution of his relationship with his wife and capably recounts his tireless efforts raising funds for and awareness of ALS. Though his post-football life has grown physically and emotionally arduous, Gleason takes nothing for granted and courageously exposes the raw details of his journey, which are persistently grim but also moving and hopeful for others dealing with disabilities. A sobering, inspirational sports memoir grounded in inner strength and resiliency." Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593536810
ISBN-10: 0593536819
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 30th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English