Fall 2024


The Brief Career of the NBA's First Black Superstar

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

Stokes tells the story of the NBA’s first Black superstar, Maurice Stokes, who is not as well known as he should be in part because of a career-ending injury.

Coauthors and basketball enthusiasts John Coy and Ty Chapman highlight what a standout Stokes was: he was 6’7” and as they write, “nobody had ever seen a guy his size score, defend, rebound, dribble, and pass so well.”

In a 1958 game against the Minneapolis Lakers, Stokes, went down hard and hit his head, losing consciousness. At the time, there was no concussion protocol, and Stokes went back into the game. A few days later, he went into a coma and woke up unable to move his body from the neck down. Players did not have any sort of financial support in situations like this, and Stokes’s teammate Jack Twyman worked with other players and Milton Kutsher to put on a benefit game during the summer at Kutsher’s hotel in the Catskills. This game became an annual tradition, and Stokes was eventually able to travel and watch the game. Wilt Chamberlain said of Stokes, “He had something transcending as a person. . . . Everybody loved him.”

Back matter includes some great historical photos as well as further information about Stokes, who was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, and about the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.

This picture book biography provides a fascinating look at basketball history, accompanied by Lonnie Ollivierre’s action-packed illustrations.

Format Your Price Add
On pre-order until 10/01/2024
On pre-order until 10/01/2024
Available at all major wholesalers and distributors. Save 25% off list price on hardcovers and ebooks when you buy direct! Digital purchases will be accessed on Lerner Digital Bookshelf. An account will be created for you after purchase.
Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Biography, Diverse Books: Physical Disability & Illness, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning, Sports
Copyright 2024
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2024-10-01
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF007100, JNF053180, JNF054020
Dewey 796.323092 [B]
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Guided Reading Level R
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Source notes

Author: Ty Chapman

Ty Chapman is the author of Sarah Rising (Beaming 2022); Looking for Happy (Beaming 2023); A Door Made for Me, written with Tyler Merritt (WorthyKids 2022); as well as multiple forthcoming children's books through various publishers, and a forthcoming poetry collection through Button Poetry. Ty was a finalist for Tin House's 2022 Fall Residency, Button Poetry's 2020 Chapbook Contest, and Frontier Magazine's New Voices Contest. He is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts and was recently named a Loft Literary Center Mirrors & Windows fellow and Mentor Series fellow.

Author: John Coy

John Coy is the author of young adult novels, the 4 for 4 middle-grade series, and nonfiction and fiction picture books including Hoop Genius, Game Changer, Their Great Gift, Dads, If We Were Gone, and Where We Come From. He has received numerous awards for his work including a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and the Burr/Warzalla Award for Distinguished Achievement in Children's Literature. John lives by the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Illustrator: Lonnie Ollivierre

Lonnie Ollivierre was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, grew up in Brooklyn New York, and now lives in Georgia. He taught himself to paint with oil and acrylic, seeking to inspire and uplift others in his art. His illustrated work includes the picture book A-Train Allen by Lesley Younge which was the inaugural Own Voices, Own Stories Grand Prize Winner.


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Kirkus Reviews

“A poignant might have been, worth remembering and still as cogent as ever.”—Kirkus Reviews


“Telling a moving story, Chapman and Coy introduce Stokes’ unusual combination of size, skills, quickness, and understanding of the game and then explain how differently Black players were treated on NBA teams in the 1950s. From action scenes to quiet moments, Ollivierre’s art illustrates the narrative with empathy and style.”—Booklist