Simon and Schuster, UK has just published Pele's autobiography. We all know Pele, the legend, the player. But in this autobiography, Pele talks about the man, the son, the husband, the parent, and the humanitarian.
A quintessential quandary of any legend is how are his or her children going to react to living with a legend. And that is true for sports too. The primacy is the issue and its balance: Does the game take over or does parenting? With excess the relationship is fraught. Or can you strike a balance? Or in some exceptions ala Richard Dawkins, do we get children who show far more empathy and understanding of the peculiar problems that confront famous parents?
Do they take the fame and talent of their parent in stride and eke out their own niche and identity with their own talent and interest in the same or a different sport (Archie Manning and Peyton Manning in American football or Yannick Noah in tennis and Joaquin Noah, his son with basketball) or do they do something completely different and learn to take their parents fame as a peripheral issue in their lives but try and emulate their parents high standard to their chosen interest (Floyd Patterson in boxing and his son, Floyd Patterson II in music) or do they fall apart with the pressure and expectations put on them. By themselves and their peers. A dysfunctional relationship as seen in Ted Williams, baseball legend and his son, John Henry Williams.
Or in the case of Edson Arantes Do Nascimento aka Pele, and his son Edinho, who became a goalkeeper for Santos (the irony was not lost on Pele). But injuries forced out Edinho and he soon turned his interests onto other things, including an unsuccesful stint in Brazilian motocross which led infamously to a death of a motorcyclist. Soon he was taking drugs and involved in drug trafficking. He was arrested and spent time in jail. Pele went through the most difficult time in his life. After Edinho's release, he joined a drug rehab center and was on his way to recovery. Pele was ecstatic at his son's turnaround. But Edinho again fell foul of the law and was re-arrested. This as late as February 2006. Which means that Pele is still dealing with his son's drug problems.
It should be a fascinating read into the life of a legend that defines the yardstick of an entire sport. Like Donald Bradman, Michael Jordan, or Nadia Comaneci.
Simon and Schuster, UK. Pele: The Autobiography, published by Simon & Schuster on May 15, priced £18.99. Copyright (c) 2006 Edson Arantes do Nascimento