There are times when you just need a heartwarming YouTube video to help get you through the day. Or the night. And indeed, one of those times is “every waking second of 2020.”
Fortunately, children’s author Brad Meltzer has just teamed up with one of the greatest legends in American sports to produce exactly the kind of uplifting clip that we could all use right about now.
Last week, Meltzer released a video to his channel featuring Billie Jean King reading his picture book about her life story entitled I Am Billie Jean King.
It is, of course, an inspirational narrative of an all-time great athlete’s life, meant to teach young children that they are capable of achieving anything they set their minds to, regardless of any naysayers along they way. It also promotes messages of inclusion and standing up to bullying.
The video is particularly uplifting because it not only relates King’s inspirational life story, it also depicts her matter-of-factly narrating the amazing events she has experienced. In doing so, King personifies the name of Meltzer’s book series: “Ordinary People Change the World.”
Even in the midst of reading passages of her victories at Wimbledon and her triumph over Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, King emerges as an extremely normal and approachable person who just so happens to have accomplished some historic achievements.
In her narration, King shows herself to be equally skilled as a sports trailblazer who owns some of the greatest victories in tennis history and someone who knows how to read a children’s book and make it entertaining and relatable. And she’s most charming when injecting an occasional personal comment into the story, briefly declaring “No way!” on a page where her mother suggests she take up sewing.
Most happily, Meltzer’s book is also open about addressing King’s identity as an LGBTQ athlete. One page in the book features King holding a picture of her partner Ilana Kloss as she reads:
“Eventually, Larry and I stopped being married and I fell in love with a wonderful woman named Ilana. You can’t choose who you fall in love with. Your heart will tell you.”
Perhaps what’s best about this part is that you can hear the smile on King’s face coming through her words as she reads about meeting her partner.
At the end of the video, Meltzer returns for an epilogue where he enthuses, “It is rare and amazing that you get to meet your heroes and they live up to it. And in every way, she lives up to it. She lives it every single day... walks the walk, doesn’t just talk the talk.”
Billie Jean King has led the kind of uplifting life story that can serve as inspiration for all of us. As this video proves, it’s even more uplifting when she gets a chance to read it herself.