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October 26, 2000|EARL GUSTKEY

Title: "Chamique: On Family, Focus and Basketball"

Author: Chamique Holdsclaw with Jennifer Frey.

Price: $18

Publisher: Scribner.

This is a nice little book about a very nice basketball player and one of the highest-profile stars in the WNBA, Chamique Holdsclaw.

It's her first-person account of how she survived her early life with warring parents and then, because of the strict discipline of her grandmother, was kept apart from the street drug scene in the New York projects and became a high school star who went on to lead Tennessee to three consecutive national championships.

The best parts of this 189-page book are how she was drawn to Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt during the recruiting process and why once in Knoxville she clashed repeatedly with Summitt. The intense, hard-driving Summitt drove Holdsclaw to new levels of excellence, but there were a lot of tears along the way.

Holdsclaw describes a Summitt outburst after a Tennessee loss: " 'We lost because you didn't take over, Chamique!' she yelled at me. 'You didn't step up. You didn't do your job. The girl scored the winning basket on you. That's your burden!' "

Then, later, she writes: "When I look back now, I realize this was just another example of Coach Summitt knowing what buttons to push with me--I was seeing red, and that's exactly how [she] wanted me to feel."

Holdsclaw makes clear that the real heroine in her life is June Holdsclaw, the grandmother who, on a $25,000 income, somehow found the $3,700 in private school tuition bills each year to put her granddaughter through New York's Christ the King High School.

Grandma Holdsclaw permitted Chamique to play basketball all day, but only on a court that she could see from her apartment window. And when the sun went down, the window was raised and Chamique would hear: "Chamique, upstairs!"

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