2001 – Rick Reilly

Although his weekly Sports Illustrated column is entitled “Life of Reilly,” there’s not much leisurely about the life of tonight’s Iba Awards keynote speaker. At only 42, Rick Reilly is in his 16th year as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He has been voted National Sportswriter of the Year six times. His weekly “Life of Reilly.” column that runs on the last page of SI is the first such signed weekly opinion column in the magazine’s history. Publishers Weekly called him “an indescribable amalgam of Dave Barry, Jim Murray and Lewis Grizzard, with the timing of Jay Leno and the wit of Johnny Carson.”

Wow. His current book The Life of Reilly: The Best of Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly hit bookstores in mid-November 2000. The New York Daily News called him “one of the funniest humans on the planet.”

His latest novel, Slo-Mo: My Untrue Story, (Doubleday) a farce on the NBA, is a “romp that could have been written only by someone who has seen the game from the inside,” according to the Denver Post. His first novel, Missing Links, (Doubleday) a comic golf romance, was hailed by the New York Times as “three laughs per page.” It is scheduled to be a TBS Original Movie. His next three screenplays will be for Warner Bros.

Reilly has won numerous awards in his 22-year writing career, including the prestigious New York Newspaper Guild’s Page One Award for Best Magazine Story. He is the co-author of The Boz, the best- selling autobiography of bad-boy Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth; Gretzky, with hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings; I’d Love to but I Have a Game, with NBC announcer Marv Albert, and the The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley. He is co-author of the screenplay, Leatherheads, a comic romance centered on the 1927 Duluth Eskimos of the fledgling NFL.

He has written about everything from ice skater Katarina Witt behind the Iron Curtain to actor Jack Nicholson in the front row, from wrestling priests in Mexico City to women caddies in Japan, from playing golf with President Clinton to playing golf with O.J. Simpson and back again. He has three times had the disagreeable task of accompanying the models on the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. He was once featured in a Miller Lite ad with swimsuit cover girl Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Reilly has flown upside down at 600 miles per hour in an F-14, driven a stock car 142 miles per hour, competed against 107 women for a spot in the WNBA, announced three innings of play-by-play for the Colorado Rockies and played 108 holes of golf in one day.

Reilly began his career in 1979 taking phoned-in high-school volleyball scores for his hometown, Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera while a sophomore at the University of Colorado, from which he was graduated in 1981. He wrote for two years at the Camera, two more at the Denver Post and two more at the Los Angeles Times before moving to Sports Illustrated in 1985.

Reilly married his Boulder High School sweetheart, Linda Campbell, in 1983. He dabbles in magic, piano, mountain biking, scuba, back-alley basketball, skiing and snowboarding. He lives in downtown Denver with his wife, three young kids, too many fish, an eel, a rabbit, a bird and an 8 handicap that keeps him from concentrating on anything very important.

Okay. Maybe the golf habit is leisurely. But we’ll bet he works hard at that, too.

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Rotary Club of Tulsa

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