Yaeger, Don 1962-
Yaeger, Don 1962-
Born December 24, 1962, in Hilo, HI; son of Donald William (a minister and computer programmer) and Frances Eloise (a religious youth group employee) Yaeger; married Allison Tant (divorced, 1993); married Denise Johnson (in marketing), February 14, 1994; children: Billy, Katie. Education: Ball State University, B.S., 1984. Hobbies and other interests: Basketball, politics, education.
San Antonio Light, San Antonio, TX, reporter, 1984-85; Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, reporter, 1986; Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, reporter and capitol bureau chief, 1986-90; writer and associate editor, Sports Illustrated. Media consultant; affiliated with Florida Special Olympics.
Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Livingston Award finalist, best journalist under age thirty-five, University of Michigan, 1990.
Undue Process: The NCAA's Injustice for All, Sagamore (Champaign, IL), 1990.
Shark Attack: Jerry Tarkanian and His Battle with the NCAA and UNLV, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Douglas S. Looney) Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed Its Ideals for Football Glory, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Dale Brown) Tiger in a Lion's Den: Adventures in LSU Basketball, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Dot Richardson) Living the Dream, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 1997.
(With George Karl) This Game's the Best! (So Why Don't They Quit Screwing with It?), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Jeff Benedict) Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Walter Payton) Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton, Villard Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Dan Wetzel) Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Tug McGraw) Ya Gotta Believe! My Roller-Coaster Life as a Screwball Pitcher, and Part-time Father, and My Hope-filled Fight against Brain Cancer, New American Library (New York, NY), 2004.
Turning of the Tide: How One Game Changed the South, Center Street (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Mike Pressler) It's Not about the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered, Threshold Editions (New York, NY), 2007.
Don Yaeger, usually in collaboration, has written numerous investigative works on sports and has ghostwritten autobiographies of top athletes. In Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, Yaeger and coauthor Jeff Benedict report that a shockingly high proportion of National Football League players had been charged with serious crimes. After further research, "they uncovered a disturbing trend—the NFL continues to employ players with multiple arrests and multiple convictions, just as long as they are capable of playing winning football," related Terry Madden in the Library Journal. With Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth, Yaeger and Dan Wetzel make the case that shoe manufacturers exercise undue financial influence on college sports. They also exploit young players, most of whom are from impoverished backgrounds. Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky commented that this book has "powerful reporting, powerful writing" and "should give the issue the wider exposure it deserves." Sports Illustrated's Charles Hirschberg called it "a timely plea to stop the madness behind March Madness."
Yaeger has helped write the autobiographies of sports figures such as Louisiana State University basketball coach Dale Brown, women's softball star Dot Richardson, and one of the greatest pro football players ever, Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears. Payton, who holds the NFL record for career rushing yards gained by a running back, was also an unpretentious, good-humored, and generous man, active on behalf of numerous charities, and he died tragically young—he was only forty-five when he succumbed to liver cancer in 1999. Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton focuses as much on Payton's gallantry in the face of illness—for instance, he refused to use his celebrity status to move up on the waiting list for liver transplants—as on his achievements in football. Yaeger added interviews with Payton's friends and family to the athlete's own reminiscences. This results in some repetition, a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented, but the reviewer allowed that Payton possessed an "abundance" of the talent and the humility that his loved ones remark on so frequently. New York Times Book Review critic Michael Lichtenstein dubbed the volume "inspirational," and Booklist's Lukowsky noted that "this very moving book" provides a lesson in "how to live and die with grace and purpose."
In It's Not about the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered, Yaeger and coauthor Mike Pressler—the coach of the lacrosse team at the time of the alleged incident—examine the events surrounding the supposed rape of an exotic dancer by three Duke University lacrosse team players during a party on March 13, 2006. The story that unfolded in the media suggested that the three players (all white) victimized the dancer (who was black). The truth, as it emerged in Yaeger's book, was that the dancer had invented the story in order to extort money from the players. In addition, the Durham, North Carolina District Attorney, Mike Nifong, saw the case as a potential political bonanza. Running for reelection and needing the town's black vote to win, he went along with the false charges to stir up racial animosity. "The book," stated Tung Yin on the Yin Blog, "argues that Nifong made a spectacle out of the case so that he could win election as DA and thereby keep his job, since his main opponent was the second assistant DA, Freda Black, whom he fired when he was appointed DA by the governor." DNA evidence and inconsistencies in the stories that the dancer gave police eventually caused the North Carolina attorney general to drop all charges against the players and declare them innocent. "Yaeger interviewed a number of the key people in the case and provides interesting after-the-fact reflections, particularly some of the parents of the lacrosse players," Yin stated, and he concluded by calling It's Not about the Truth "a good read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, February 26, 1994, Christopher Devron, review of Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed Its Ideals for Football Glory, p. 19.
Booklist, May 15, 1992, Wes Lukowsky, review of Shark Attack: Jerry Tarkanian and His Battle with the NCAA and UNLV, p. 1656; October 15, 1994, Wes Lukowsky, review of Tiger in a Lion's Den: Adventures in LSU Basketball, p. 393; May 1, 1997, Dennis Dodge, review of This Game's the Best! (So Why Don't They Quit Screwing with It?), p. 81; December 1, 1999, Wes Lukowsky, review of Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth, p. 669; August, 2000, Wes Lukowsky, review of Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton, p. 2071.
Library Journal, April 15, 1992, J. Sara Paulk, review of Shark Attack, p. 100; November 1, 1994, L.R. Little, review of Tiger in a Lion's Den, p. 81; May 15, 1997, William H. Hoffman, review of This Game's the Best!, p. 81; December, 1998, Terry Madden, review of Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, p. 115; September 1, 2000, Larry R. Little, review of Never Die Easy, p. 216.
National Catholic Reporter, November 5, 1993, George Vecsey, review of Under the Tarnished Dome, p. 17.
New York Times Book Review, November 13, 1994, George Robinson, review of Tiger in a Lion's Den; October 15, 2000, Michael Lichtenstein, review of Never Die Easy, p. 22.
People, August 25, 1997, Francine Prose, review of Living the Dream, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, September 26, 1994, review of Tiger in a Lion's Den, p. 50; August 28, 2000, review of Never Die Easy, p. 70.
Sporting News, October 18, 1993, Steve Gietschier, review of Under the Tarnished Dome, p. 8.
Sports Illustrated, March 20, 2000, Charles Hirshberg, "Two Contrasting Views of Youth Basketball: From the Hideous to the Sublime," p. R6.
Wall Street Journal Western Edition, September 27, 1993, Frederick C. Klein, review of Under the Tarnished Dome, p. 20.
Don Yaeger Web site,http://www.donyaeger.com (September 9, 2007).
Yin Blog,http://yin.typepad.com/ (September 9, 2007), Yin Tung, review of It's Not about the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered.