The Yards Between Us: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Football (Hardcover)
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A groundbreaking memoir from professional NFL player, writer, and advocate R.K. Russell, who made history by becoming the first out active NFL player to identify as bisexual.
In 2019, R.K. Russell broke the mold when he came out as bisexual in an essay for ESPN that ignited the sports world. Now, in his powerful memoir, THE YARDS BETWEEN US, he shares his story and explores his love of football, men and women, walking the devastating tightrope of keeping his sexuality secret, the tension between his private and public lives, and the importance of crashing through barriers. One part inspirational journey and one part coming of age as an athlete struggling to break a mold, THE YARDS BETWEEN US follows in the footsteps of moving, impactful sports memoirs like Agassi's OPEN, Misty Copeland's LIFE IN MOTION, and Megan Rapinoe's ONE LIFE.
Told through the people and moments that have shaped him, Russell traces the highs and lows of his life in and out of football, from his early life as a shy kid struggling with the expectations on a Black boy and the pull between his quiet nature and his athletic ability, to being drafted by his hometown team the Dallas Cowboys, and then on to seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills. And as his time in the sport comes into full bloom, Russell realizes that keeping his secret in the NFL is easier than in college when life and football are so much more connected to social worlds.
Through being cut, injured, and frustrating setbacks, Russell's confidence lags as the secret of his sexuality weighs heavier and heavier. And when that frustration is combined with the devastating loss of his best friend and sole confidant, the darkness that follows also brings a deep understanding that perhaps it's time to make a change. In Los Angeles, against the backdrop of the swaying palm trees and warm sands of Malibu, Russell falls in love and it's the final push he needs to stand up for every part of himself—a professional athlete, a writer, a son, a friend, a lover, a bisexual Black man. In THE YARDS BETWEEN US, R.K. Russell shows us the life-changing power of embracing who you are and fighting to make space so others can do the same.
About the Author
R. K. Russell was a professional football player in the NFL, and is a social justice advocate, essayist, and artist. In August 2019, Russell made history by becoming the first out active NFL player to identify as bisexual. Since coming out, he has written about his experience as a Black queer man in sports for The New York Times, The L.A. Times, and Out Magazine, among others. Russell has also spearheaded NFL Pride initiatives such as the NFL Super Bowl LVI Pride panel and the NFL's National Coming Out Day PSA. He has been honored by GAY TIMES (U.K.) as Sportsperson of the Year, and he was selected to the prestigious OUT 100 List in 2019. He lives in Los Angeles.
"[R.K.] Russell's story is more than just historic. It's an expression of sports' very mission -- overcoming adversity and applying years of preparation to thrive in a pursuit you love. LGBT people will celebrate his journey, but so will anyone who appreciates how we find ourselves in life and build an identity. Having had the good fortune to listen to Russ recount his personal quest, I've been overcome by the thoughtfulness of his reflections."—Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN writer and LGTBQ advocate
"[R.K.] Russell is a force to be reckoned with, a man of many talents—on the page and on the field—and it’s a thrill to see him tell his powerful story of acceptance and discovery. We can only hope his work will light the way for others to do the same."—Jason Collins, NBA legend and LGTBQ advocate
“This is a touching and beautiful book that’s about so much more than football- it’s a lifeline. From his vivid telling of growing up in Texas with a single mother, to his groundbreaking experience coming out as an NFL player, this story introduces a brilliant and inspiring new voice.”
—Gabrielle Union, actress, producer, advocate and New York Times bestselling author
“An intimate journey with a trailblazing queer athlete, The Yards Between Us goes far beyond the gridiron in its exploration of everything from the euphoria of a first fling to the complexities of coming out in the public eye. A tender, discerning book from a force to be reckoned with in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, both on and off the field.”— —Eric Cervini, Historian of LGBTQ+ politics and culture, New York Times best-selling author, Puli
“The power of sport, much like storytelling, is its ability to bring people of different backgrounds and cultures together for a common goal, to be unique yet unified, and to find the strength in that sense of community. Russell's book shows us how to find that strength in our lives and ourselves.”—Spencer Paysinger, Writer/Producer of All American, Former NFL athlete and Super Bowl XLVI Champion