West by West
In an NPR interview to promote his memoir, West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life, basketball legend Jerry West reminisces about growing up in Chelyan, West Virginia, a small town with fewer than 800 residents.
He “loathed” the nickname given to him upon his arrival in Los Angeles, ‘Zeke from Cabin Creek,’ because he’s actually very proud of his Appalachian roots. While growing up, the people around him were more “labor-orientated” than he was, and his father worked in a coal mine. The portion of the interview focusing on his father is intense, as West recalls physical violence that was “a lot more than” corporal punishment. When asked if he ever resolved the conflict, he answers in the negative, stating that despite his father’s wishes to become involved in his athletic life, he asked his mother to never allow his father to attend the games in which he played.
West says that these rough beginnings fueled his determination to achieve goals that he “didn’t even dream possible.” Despite his poise in speaking about painful memories, West acknowledges the emotional impact of his childhood, stating that “I’ve been fortunate, but I can’t forget where I came from, I can’t forget the things that I saw in my life. I will never forget those days.”
You can listen to the full interview or read the transcript here.