At a glance:James Blake inspired the world during an epic tennis career that featured 10 singles titles, a Davis Cup Championship, and a New York Times Best Seller for his memoir, Breaking Back.
James Blake inspired the world during an epic tennis career that featured 10 singles titles, a Davis Cup Championship, and a New York Times Best Seller for his memoir, Breaking Back. James turned pro in 1999 while he was the #1 collegiate player at Harvard University. In 2004, James overcame a potential career ending injury and a case of the shingles that temporarily left his face paralyzed and blurred his vision. Just one year later, James climbed from outside of the top 200 in the ATP rankings to his career highest ranking of #4. In memory of his father who lost a battle to stomach cancer in 2004, James created the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He holds an annual celebrity tennis and entertainment event, Serving for a Cure, to raise funds for cancer research and prevention. After an amazing 14 year career, James retired from professional tennis at the 2013 US Open. James lives in California with his wife Emily and daughters Riley and Emma.
Breaking BackJames Blake's life was getting better every day. A rising tennis star and People magazine's Sexiest Male Athlete of 2002, he was leading a charmed life and loving every minute of it. But all that ended in May 2004, when Blake fractured his neck in an on-court freak accident. As he recovered, his father—who had been the inspiration for his tennis career—lost his battle with stomach cancer. Shortly after his father's death, Blake was dealt a third blow when he contracted zoster, a rare virus that paralyzed half of his face and threatened to end his already jeopardized career.
In Breaking Back, Blake provides a remarkable account of how he came back from this terrible heartbreak and self-doubt to become one of the top tennis players in the world. A story of strength, passion, courage, and the unbreakable bonds between a father and son, Breaking Back is a celebration of one extraordinary athlete's indomitable spirit and his inspiring ability to find hope in the bleakest of times.
James will discuss his book, along with the highs and lows of his career and personal life.
Police BrutalityIn September of 2015, James was forcefully and wrongfully apprehended by an undercover New York City police officer in a case of mistaken identity. The assault became another catalyst for the national conversation around incidents of excessive police force. James has become a committed advocate for educating and protecting victims who do not share his same platform as well as working with government officials to improve this recurrent issue.
At the podium, James will speak about the assault and the issue of police brutality. He knows he has a platform to speak out against this topic and wants to be the voice for the people who do not.
Part of his speech will reflect on the topic of accountability. He believes that every victim who has been involved with police brutality, regardless of his or her status, should receive an apology.