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Rick Reilly Biography

Rick Reilly is an acclaimed sportswriter, screenwriter, book author, keynote speaker and inductee into the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. He was presented into it by legendary quarterback John Elway. He was voted National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times over a career that began in 1979.

USA Today called Reilly “the closest thing sportswriting ever had to a rock star.” The Sherman Report called Reilly “easily the most read sportswriter of his generation.” The New York Daily News described him “as one of the funniest humans on the planet.” 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.” Booklist called him, “Hands down, the funniest golf writer alive.”

His latest book — So Help Me Golf: Why We Love the Game — is a valentine to the game — 80 new funny and emotional stories about people who've love the game as much as he does. Some of it is a memoir centering on his fear of his alcoholic father — who played golf hard and drank harder — and the peace he made with both golf and his dad. Booklist called it, “funny, ironic and inspirational.” Wall Street Journal said it has, ”2.5 laughs per page."

Commander-in-Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump is an uproarious indictment of President Donald Trump and the many ways he cheats at golf, bullies with it, and fails to pay those who build his courses. It has spent multiple weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

From 1985 until 2007, his breezy, hilarious and yet often emotional style graced the pages of Sports Illustrated. For the last 10 there, he wrote the popular “Life of Reilly” column, which ran on the last page. It was the first signed weekly opinion column in the magazine’s long history. He is “the Tiger Woods of sports columnists,” says Bloomberg News.

Reilly is the founder of the anti-malaria effort Nothing But Nets, which has raised over $70 million to hang mosquito nets over kids in Africa, where 2,000 children die every day of the disease. A partnership with the United Nations Foundation, every dollar goes to buying the nets. Wrote the Denver Post, “Nothing but Nets is one charity that scores big.”

Reilly won the 2009 Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism, an honor previously won by Jimmy Breslin, Tim Russert, Bob Costas, Mike Royko, George Will, Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw, among others. Three times his columns have been read into the record in the U.S. Congress. An astronaut once took his signed trading card into space.

He is the author of 15 books. Before the Trump book, Reilly’s most recent effort was Tiger, Meet My Sister … And Other Things I Probably Shouldn’t Have Said (Penguin) — is a collection of his best columns written at ESPN, complete with postscript updates of each column at the bottom.

Sports From Hell, My Search for the World’s Dumbest Competition (Doubleday) was a finalist for the 2011 Thurber Prize. It’s the account of his three-year search for the dumbest sport in the world. Not to give anything away, but a good bet would be either Ferret Legging or the World Sauna Championships. It also includes embarrassing attempts by Reilly to try Nude Bicycle Racing, Zorbing, Chess Boxing, Extreme Ironing, the World Rock Paper Scissors Championships, and an unfortunate week on a women’s pro football team.

In Who’s Your Caddy? (Doubleday), Reilly caddies for everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Donald Trump to a $50,000-a-hole gambler. It rose to No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list.

For two years, he was the host of ESPN’s Homecoming with Rick Reilly, a one-hour interview show which has featured Michael Phelps, Elway and Magic Johnson, among many others. It was a kind of cross between This is Your Life and Inside the Actor’s Studio, for sports. The show went deep inside the life of America’s greatest athletes. Filmed in front of a live audience, usually at the guest’s high school or college, it’s full of surprises, with home video, interviews with old teammates and coaches, family, friends and rivals. Jerry Rice, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Emmitt Smith, Billie Jean King, Donovan McNabb and Tony Hawk have been guests, to name a few. “That was the greatest night of my life,” soccer star Landon Donovan said of it. Magic Johnson called it, “The most fun interview I’ve ever done.”

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 mushers at the Iditarod, from playing golf with President Clinton to playing golf with O.J. Simpson and back again. He was once President Obama’s fantasy football partner for a week. He has five 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). In July of 2010, he survived running with the bulls of Pamplona, Spain. Twice.

His previous collection of columns was called Hate Mail from Cheerleaders. It included 100 of his best SI columns. It became a New York Times bestseller in its first week.

His novel Shanks for Nothing (Doubleday) is a madcap golf romp that cracked the New York Times bestseller list. It’s the sequel to Reilly’s cult classic Missing Links (Doubleday), whose film rights were recently sold to Steve Carell, star of NBC’s The Office. Both books revolve around regulars at the worst public course in America – Ponkapoag Municipal Golf Links and Deli – and the insane bets, pranks and camaraderie that goes on there. The New York Times hailed Missing Links as “three laughs per page.”

His first collection of columns — The Life of Reilly: The Best of Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly — was also a New York Times bestseller.

Slo-Mo: My Untrue Story, (Doubleday) is a farce on the NBA, which the Denver Post called, “a romp that could have been written only by someone who has seen the game from the inside.”

Reilly is the co-author of the movie Leatherheads, the comic romance centered on the 1924 Duluth Eskimos of the fledgling NFL, starring George Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski. It opened on April 4, 2008. MTV called it “a small, unassuming jewel.” And USA Today wrote: “Leatherheads is a real winner.” He currently has two movies in development.

Probably too curious for his own good, Reilly has flown upside down at 600 miles per hour in an F-14, faced fastballs from Nolan Ryan, jumped from 14,000 feet with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, driven a stock car 142 miles per hour, piloted the Goodyear blimp, competed against 107 women for a spot in the WNBA, worked three innings of play-by-play for the Colorado Rockies, bicycled with Lance Armstrong, driven a monster truck over six parked cars, worked as a rodeo bullfighter, and found out the hard way how many straight par 3s he’d have to play before he made a hole in one (694).

Reilly has won numerous awards in his 30-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 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 speaks Italian, plays piano, paddle boards, practices magic and loves traveling the world. Reilly has three children. He lives in Hermosa Beach, CA and Sedona, AZ, with his wife Cynthia and a putter he’s not currently speaking to.

All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Rick Reilly for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Rick Reilly speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.

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