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March 22, 2001|LARRY STEWART

What: "Companions in Courage"

Authors: Pat LaFontaine, with Dr. Ernie Valutis, Chas Griffin and Larry Weisman

Publisher: Warner Books

Retail Price: $23.95

This book opens with Pat LaFontaine telling his story, beginning with the concussion he suffered in 1996 that essentially ended his career as one of the best players in the NHL. The second chapter deals with LaFontaine's childhood, and includes a graphic description of a near-death experience in Michigan at age 10, when the ice on the lake LaFontaine was walking on gave way.

But this book is far from just a LaFontaine biography. The book turned into a collection of stories about people--some who are out of the limelight and others who are well-known athletes--who have shown tremendous courage.

LaFontaine got the idea to write about courageous people after spending time at two children's hospitals in Buffalo, N.Y., when reconstructive knee surgery sidelined him for the 1993 NHL season and part of the '94 season. LaFontaine got to know the kids at the hospitals and their families, and began compiling stories. Then, along with the help of his co-authors, LaFontaine began researching other stories of courage. Among the more than 50 people profiled are Vladimir Konstantinov, Mario Lemieux, Gail Devers, Michelle Akers, Cam Neely and Julie Krone.

LaFontaine likes to call the book "a dictionary of courage." He and his co-authors did a nice job of putting the words together. The book makes for an uplifting read.

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