When Craig Sager learned that his leukemia had returned for a third time and was given a prognosis of 3-to-6 months, his son wanted to use it as an opportunity to get closer with his father.
“During a desperate phone call I told him our father-son relationship was nowhere near as close as it needed to be,” Sager Jr. wrote on SI.com. “’Junior, you are 27 years old,’ he answered. ‘Don’t worry about me. You have a great life ahead of you. Go live it.'”
While that starts off as a sad story about a son running out of time to get closer to his father, Sager Jr. wrote about how an opportunity arose to write a book that changed everything.
Then I got an email from Brian Curtis, who wanted to know if my dad and I would write a book together with Flatiron Books. It would document his life story, his outlook on life, our relationship and his inspirational battle with Leukemia. I had just received my first opportunity to co-author another book the week before for the Atlanta Falcons, but I knew I couldn’t pass this up. Having no idea what it actually took to write a book, let alone two books at the same time, I said yes. I saw it as the chance to finally tilt the clock in our favor, steal time and team up with my dad. Despite a jam-packed schedule and the fact that he was literally fighting for his life each day, my dad agreed to write the book, too. We were going to somehow make it work and give it everything we had.
As soon as the writing process began, my dad and I began to understand one another in a completely new light as we weaved the story together. My dad could read what I was thinking at the time and during some other pivotal moments of our lives. Chapters that didn’t even go in the book were written just to communicate with one another as he went on the road and rotated from press conferences to bone marrow biopsies, and from experimental chemotherapy to some of his loudest suits yet. After living completely in the moment all these years, we were finally a team writing our story together. It wasn’t ideal, but that made it mean even more.”
Out of all the remembrances and stories that have emerged since Sager died last week, this might be the best one. If not for the chance to write the book, Sager Jr. might have had to carry that regret for the rest of his life.