Graham, Tom

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Graham, Tom


Father of Rachel Graham Cody. Education: Attended the University of Indiana; Harvard Law School, J.D.


Home—Washington, DC.


International trade lawyer, writer.


(With daughter, Rachel Graham Cody) Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Tom Graham is a graduate of Harvard Law School and works as an international trade attorney. His daughter, Rachel Graham Cody, is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Divinity School, where she focused on African American studies. Together, the pair are the joint authors of Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball, a book that was seven years in the making as the father-daughter writing team delved into the wealth of material that was available on Garrett and his life. Graham, as an alumnus of Garrett's old high school, Shelbyville High, and a sports fan himself, felt a particular affinity to the athlete's story. As part of their research, they interviewed numerous individuals, including friends, family, coaches, and teammates. They also dug through packed closets and combed archives in order to access every detail they could find. Although Garrett himself has been largely forgotten in the sports world outside of the state of Indiana, in his day he was basketball's answer to Jackie Robinson, as the first black player to make it onto a Big Ten team. During the early part of the twentieth century, Indiana had a reputation of being as racially divided as the South. Therefore, when all-star high school basketball player Bill Garrett landed at Indiana University (IU) after leading his high school team to the 1947 state high school championships and winning in a major upset, he was not allowed to play basketball on the university team. At the time, Indiana and the other Big Ten schools operated within the parameters of an unwritten agreement that stated none of them would recruit black players or allow them on their teams. But in the wake of World War II, times were changing and the civil rights movement was beginning to heat up. Indiana University's administration put pressure on the league and on the IU coaches to allow Garrett to play. Although he faced unrelenting taunts and blatant prejudices, Garrett remained on the IU team from 1948 to 1951. Although he had the chance to play for the Celtics, a team that became integrated around the time that he graduated, Garrett ultimately served his country in the Korean War instead. The book splits its time between Garrett's life and the fight to allow him to play for IU, which was championed by the university's president. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the book to be "a striking and honest portrait of a man overcoming racism in a place that barely acknowledged its existence." Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky found the book "a little-known but fascinating chapter to the story of the integration of American sports."



Booklist, March 15, 2006, Wes Lukowsky, review of Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball, p. 15.

Books, March 19, 2006, Elizabeth Taylor, review of Getting Open, p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, January 16, 2006, review of Getting Open, p. 51.


SC Alumni Web site, (June 18, 2008), author profile.

Simon & Schuster Web site, (June 18, 2008), author profile.

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