Coach C. Vivian Stringer gained national attention for the way she lead the Rutgers women's basketball team after a racial firestorm.
Controversial comments by talk show host Don Imus removed the focus from her team's April 2007 loss against University of Tennessee in the final game of the NCAA women's basketball championship and placed it on her close-knit team's reaction to Imus' heavily criticized comments.
The moment was not the first difficult situation in her career. Stringer's faith had been tested many times, including when the Hall of Famer had to fight for a place on an all-white cheerleading squad in the 1960s and when she took a small, poor historically black college to the national championships in 1981.
Now, Stringer has written her autobiography, chronicling the ups and downs of her career and personal life.
Read an excerpt of "Standing Tall" below and click here for more information about the book.
Bill and I got married in September 1971. We had waited a long time?five years?and had gotten to know each other really well. I always wanted to be out and doing something, and Bill was game for whatever I wanted to do. Interestingly, Bill was nothing like the stereotype of the black male athlete. He was an amazingly talented gymnast and a fantastic volleyball player, and, like me, he played field hockey in a league. He'd been awarded a dance scholarship to UCLA. But basketball? No. I think I was a better basketball player than he was; in fact, I know I was. We were pretty evenly matched otherwise, though. We'd put our tennis rackets on our bikes, pack a picnic, and go out to spend the day together?just a girl and a guy doing ordinary things.
He was my best friend.
Part of the reason we took so long to get married had to do with the way I was raised. My father preached independence for women long before it was fashionable to do so. There was no way any of the Stoner girls was going to marry a man because she was looking to be taken care of; my father would have found that revolting. We had to be in control of our own lives. He had a way of making fun of me or my sisters if we ever looked like we were too dependent on someone. You never wanted him to catch you waiting for a boy to call, for instance; he'd tease you until you cried.
My mother didn't get involved in the emotional ups and downs of being a young person, either. She just wasn't that way. We've all talked about that since then; I'm not sure it's a great idea to make your kids feel embarrassed for showing emotions or getting attached. I know that I never felt like I could share real disappointment with my parents, and neither did my siblings; we had to be strong and act like everything was fine. I'm sorry to say that I got a little of that from them. I sometimes wish that I'd been more affectionate with Bill. We held hands all the time, and there's no question that Bill knew that I loved him, but I probably could have been more expressive. In later years, I think sometimes I hugged and kissed our boys all the time as a substitute for how much I wanted to hug and kiss Bill.