cover image Hometown Victory: A Coach’s Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home

Hometown Victory: A Coach’s Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home

Keanon Lowe with Justin Spizman. Flatiron, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-80763-2

Former NFL player Lowe, who received a congressional Medal of Honor in 2020 for his heroism in thwarting an armed teenage student at Parkrose High School in Portland, Ore., recounts in this tender debut his return home to coach high school football and the incident that transformed his life years later. After Lowe’s former high school teammate died of an opioid overdose in 2017, Lowe left his job as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers to head up his Portland hometown’s floundering football team. In moving flashbacks, Lowe recounts leading Parkrose High’s team—which had a 23-game losing streak “dating back three seasons”—to win the first playoff ever in their school’s history. His narrative resonates most, though, in its compassionate depictions of the lives of his students, perhaps best exemplified in Lowe’s humane handling of the would-be shooter he stopped and disarmed in the school’s building in 2019: “Instead of tackling him,” he writes, “I hugged him.... This kid didn’t need hurt, he needed love.” Unfortunately, just when it gets its hooks in readers, Lowe’s real-life underdog story comes to an abrupt end when, after describing a triumphant playoff run, Lowe writes, “I left the school after the second season to take on another challenge.” Still, the extraordinary empathy on display is indisputably inspiring. (May)