As Colin Kaepernick approached the end of high school, he had a decision to make: He could pursue baseball, for which he was already being scouted, or he could try to play football, a sport where he felt he could embrace his community and his identity.
Kaepernick chose football, and became widely known for taking a knee during the national anthem at professional football games to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
On Wednesday, Kaepernick and Scholastic announced they would publish a book about the period when he had to make this choice — a young adult graphic novel called “Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game,” which is scheduled to be released next spring.
“Many of my experiences in high school helped to anchor me in my understanding of Blackness, my community, and my sense of worth,” he said in an email. “High school affirmed for me that it’s sometimes only by transgressing social expectations that we’re able to transform into our truest selves.”
Illustrated by Orlando Caicedo, “Change the Game” was written by Kaepernick and Eve L. Ewing, whose work includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and the “Ironheart” series for Marvel Comics. The book is aimed at both teenagers and adults and will be copublished by Scholastic and Kaepernick Publishing — the partnership that produced Kaepernick’s children’s book, “I Color Myself Different,” this spring.
“We are thrilled to work with Colin again on the publication of this second book based on his life experience,” said Debra Dorfman, the publisher of Scholastic’s global licensing, brands and media. “Everyone faces a crossroad in their life — Colin’s teenage years were defining and his inspirational story reminds readers of all ages not to conform to others’ expectations.”
Kaepernick was a talented pitcher in high school, when he was scouted by colleges and major league baseball. His parents, teachers and coaches all believed that was his way forward, but Kaepernick wasn’t all that interested in the sport. The description of Kaepernick’s new book quotes Adam Jones, a five-time All-Star M.L.B. player, who said that “baseball is a white man’s sport.”
Baseball, Kaepernick explained, “would force me into spaces where I would face open racism and have fewer resources of cultural support.” Football, on the other hand, he said, would “provide me with real opportunities to fully embrace my culture, identity, and community.”
He went on to play college football for the University of Nevada and became a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
“‘Change the Game’ is about how power and resistance operate in the real world and how young people can embrace their autonomy and live life on terms that uplift them,” Kaepernick said. “I want young people to have courage, confidence, and conviction in who they are and what they are capable of, regardless of obstacles they may face.”