Tennis star James Blake reveals why he dropped legal action in NYC wrongful detention case

James Blake details his life experiences in new book "Ways of Grace."

June 27, 2017, 10:17 AM

— -- Former tennis professional James Blake said he was never looking for any financial resolution to a 2015 incident in which he was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and detained by NYPD officers in 2015 in a case of mistaken identity.

He also said it would be nice to see a fellowship that he created with the city of New York to investigate police misconduct established in other cities around the country.

"Over 50 percent [of police misconduct investigations] last year were not seen to completion, so we want to make sure that people are seeing this to completion and getting the settlements, getting the disciplinary action required for these kind of incidents," Blake, 37, said today on "Good Morning America."

"I truly believe that … almost all [police officers] are doing the job the right way," he said. "They're doing it with honor, with dignity, keeping our communities safe. But the ones that aren't need to be held accountable because they're making it tougher for the ones that are doing the job right."

Blake, who was ranked as high as no. 4 in the world before retiring in 2013, was waiting outside a New York City hotel to be driven to the U.S. Open for a promotional appearance in September 2015 when he was tackled and handcuffed.

PHOTO: James Blake plays tennis, Jan. 7, 2017, at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn, New York City.
James Blake plays tennis, Jan. 7, 2017, at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn, New York City.
J. Kempin/Getty Images

Then–New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton personally apologized to Blake one day after the incident.

The city announced this month it will establish the James Blake CCRB Fellowship to investigate police misconduct. The arrangement appoints a fellow to the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board who will perform outreach in neighborhoods with a high volume of police complaints to help the agency close more of its investigations.

In exchange for the creation of the fellowship, Blake agreed to withdraw the notice of claim that he filed against New York. The city's law department will pay about $175,000 in legal costs that he accumulated in the past two years and his travel expenses associated with developing the fellowship.

"The city of New York was excellent," he said. "It's two years, and it seems like that's a long time, but I think that's pretty quick with the bureaucracy you go through to deal with a city as big as New York."

Blake has written about the experience in his new book, "Ways of Grace." Inspired by Arthur Ashe's best-selling memoir, "Days of Grace," it tells the stories of athletes and public figures who have overcome adversity and used their experiences to inspire and unite others.

Blake described the "pressure" he felt in writing a book inspired by his hero Ashe, who made history as an African-American tennis star and activist in the 1960s and '70s.

"Arthur Ashe is such a role model for me," he said of Ashe, the only black man to win singles titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.

"'Days of Grace' is one of my favorite books of all time."

He added of his own book, "When I named it 'Ways of Grace,' [I] said, 'OK, this is going to have to be good, because I need to make sure that it lives up to his standards.'"

One of Blake's favorite interviews in the book is one he conducted with another tennis star, Billie Jean King.

"I forgot to think about how much of a difference Billie Jean King and her Battle of the Sexes made for putting more eyes on the sport in general. It obviously opened up more doors for women, helped with Title IX, helped with equal pay for women," he said of her famous 1973 match at the Houston Astrodome against Bobby Riggs. "It rose our whole sport."

A father of two, Blake said he hopes his book shines a spotlight on the good that comes from sports.

"I wanted to showcase that there's a lot of positive stories in sports and a lot of athletes that do the right thing with their voices, with their platform," he said, pointing to NBA icon LeBron James as an example. "There's so many positive stories that [kids] can look at and see that sports can bridge gaps, religious gaps, gender gaps, any sort of equality gaps."

Blake added, "It's a tremendous thing for kids, and I want my kids to be involved in sports as well, just to get that and give them confidence."

"Ways of Grace: Stories of Activism, Adversity and How Sports Can Bring Us Together" is on sale now.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky and Mark Crudele contributed to this report.

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