Lopez Lomong (Running For My Life)
From Lost Boy to American Icon
Though many of our athletes have fascinating lives, we feel like Lomong's is possibly the most compelling of the bunch. We covered his story pretty well in the book summary, but a story like this can't be told too many times.
Here it is again, for your reading pleasure:
- He was kidnapped at the age of six by Sudanese rebel soldiers, to be trained to be a soldier himself.
- Along with three older boys, he escapes the prison camp to Kenya (on foot!), and is sent to a UN refugee camp.
- Despite abject poverty and near-starvation, Lomong's able to get himself a bare-bones education, and discovers a joy for soccer.
- Offered a chance to go to America, he writes an essay—in a language that he doesn't speak—that essentially saves his life.
- In America, he's one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan," is adopted by a loving family, and is encouraged to run for the high school track team.
- It turns out that he's a really, really, ridiculously good runner.
- In 2003, he discovers that his family in Sudan wasn't killed in the war, as he'd always believed.
- In 2006, he's reunited with his family and tribe, and embarks upon his true mission in life: to help educate, feed, and clothe the people back home.
- He makes it to the 2008 Olympics, where he doesn't make it to the finals, but he's unanimously voted by the other Olympians to be the flag bearer in the opening ceremony, which is kind of a big deal. A he-has-lots-of-leather-bound-books-and-smells-of-rich-mahogany kind of big deal.
- In 2009 he's able to bring his two little brothers—Alex and Peter—to the United States as well.
- He makes it to the 2012 London Olympic games, where once again he fails to bring home a medal, but manages to shine as an American Olympic star all the same.
Lomong is one of the most honestly inspiring people we've ever read about. His athletic prowess, kind spirit, and humble desire to improve people's lives are something that is rarely found in one person.
And, it turns out, he can also write a really compelling memoir.