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Book Review: Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge

Terri Schlichenmeyer | 3/7/2013, 5 p.m.

No problem.

That's been your motto since forever because you've always loved a good challenge. Somebody put up a barrier, you'll figure a way around it. If there are roadblocks, you find another path. You can make things happen, you've got friends where you need them, and heaven help the person who tells you "no."

Author Drew Sharp knows someone just like you, someone who focused on what he wanted and worked until he got it. In the new book, "Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge" (c.2013, Human Kinetics, $17.95 / $18.95 Canada, 315 pages) you'll read about that man.

Dave Bing was in a bit of a pickle.

He had promised Detroit residents that he wouldn't seek more than one term as their mayor. He had been "swept into power . . . on a wave of political, social, and cultural reform," but he was realizing that it would take more than just one term to fix the city's problems.

Bing was used to working for what he wanted.

He was born in Washington, D.C., in 1943 and grew up idolizing his father, who could make anything with his hands. The young Bing also shared his father's love of baseball and dreamed of being like Jackie Robinson, but an eye injury sent him in the direction of another sport. Bing became a first-class basketball player, which eventually led him to become the first African American to be second overall pick in the NBA draft.

Bing fell in love with his new hometown and Detroit Pistons fans loved him back. But when the team was sold, Bing eventually was traded back to D.C., but basketball had lost its allure for him by then. It was time for Chapter Two.

With the contacts and friends he'd made in Detroit, Bing started a business in steel. The first year was rocky, but the second year paid off. The business grew, but 29 years later, Bing was tired of it.

It was time for Chapter Three. He began the process of passing his business forward to his daughters and set his eyes on fixing the ailing, scandal-ridden office of the Detroit mayor. He felt that his city needed him. He was up for the challenge ....

"Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge" is a book that practically cries for polish.

It's informative, but repetitive. Author Drew Sharp offers plenty of motivational inspiration, but he seemed oddly critical at times. We're allowed access to parts of Bing's life story, but the focus wavers with distracting tales of other people and in reminders about things that no conscious adult could not know about.

Reading this book, I felt like a Super Ball in a hurricane.

You may be wondering if there's good in this book and the answer is yes, but. But you've got to be patient; you've got to be willing to skip paragraphs; you'll have to want to put up with the tangles.

If you can do that, you'll find a powerful story inside "Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge." If not, well, this book is a challenge unto itself.