Walt Disney has a history of making inspiring sports movies based on true stories. Cool Runnings, The Rookie, Miracle, Million Dollar Arm, Remember the Titans — the studio has a knack for showing the way sports can bring people together and change their lives for the better. Their latest, The Queen of Katwe, is about an unorthodox sport — chess — but it still has all the trappings of a classic sports film from the Mouse House. The movie is based on a book about chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, so if you want the full story, you should read the book The Queen of Katwe and get all the details.
As for where to get it, the book can be purchased wherever books are sold, really. Amazon has it in five formats (paperback, hardcover, Kindle, Audible, and CD) ranging in price from around $11 to about $22. The book is by author Tim Crothers, who was formally a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. Crothers first heard about Mutesi in 2010, and realizing the potential of telling her story to the world, he pitched it as an article to ESPN the Magazine. The magazine sent him to Katwe in Uganda, and that's where he met the chess prodigy.
In 2011, ESPN published Crothers' profile on Mutesi, "Game of Her Life," which can be read online here. The following year, the article became a National Magazine Award finalist for profile writing, and in 2013 Crothers expanded his story into the book whose movie rights would soon be sold to Disney.
And if you like Crothers' work, he's written a couple other sports-related books, too. One is Hard Work, a biography about University of North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williams. The Man Watching is about another UNC coach — Anson Dorrance — who has guided the women's soccer team to a whopping 21 national championships. He also co-authored an anthology with John Garrity for Sports Illustrated called Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.
Thanks in part to the exposure from Crothers' book, Mutesi and her family have been lifted out of poverty, and other impoverished kids in Katwe are being given a second chance at life through the magic of sport. Now that's an uplifting Disney ending if I've ever heard one.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures