UNSTOPPABLE is one of the most compelling books I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. It tells the remarkable story of a young Jamaican woman, Simone Edwards, who came from impoverished circumstances, in Gola, August Town, Kingston. At the time Gola was neighborhood of constant gang fights and killings, with no electricity or indoor plumbing. The residents lit their houses with kerosene lamps, and used communal out houses. Simone’s household was headed by her mother, Beryl Edwards, a single parent of 4 who was a bus conductress. Ms. Edwards was a religious no-nonsense kind of woman who raised her children with very strict rules. She was also highly respected in her community.
All Simone ever wanted was to be extraordinary, and sports made her feel that way. You can’t be an extremely tall girl, standing six-feet-four inches, and be ordinary. Simone felt if one was as tall as she was and not extraordinary, you’re someone to be mocked, taunted, bullied and viewed as some sort of oddity. She was determined not to experience any of those things. Likewise, she had no idea how it was going to happen, and she also didn’t know what plans had been laid out for her future.
The book explains Simone’s journey of being a barefoot runner, a seemingly an out of place athlete in a strange place, and even going hungry on a full scholarship. At the same time, it chronicles many of the other hardships which caused Simone to remember her ‘Nanny mode’. Under those circumstances, she eventually decided not to let anything stop her from achieving her life goals.
An Unstoppable Mentality
As usual, no person is an island. The book pays homage to all the people who helped Simone achieve global greatness. By the same token, these people not only helped Simone when she was down, they also kept Simone grounded when that was needed. From blood to coaches, Simone’s story is a thank you to those who believed in her and would not let her accept anything less than triumph. She singles out Usain Bolt and his foundation for helping her when there was no one else stepping forward. Simone became the first Caribbean player to enter the Women’s National Basket Ball Association (WNBA). Her team also won the national championship. Simone, not forgetting her roots, also coached Jamaica’s National Women’s basketball team to international victory in 2014.
Having endured an extremely stressful beginning, Simone went on to earn a distinguished career in the sport of basketball. For this reason, her career took her all over the world. In the year 2000, Simone established a foundation called “Simone4children”. The foundations purpose is to encourage children to work hard and reach beyond their circumstances. The foundation gives scholarships, has a homework center in her old neighborhood and other powerful tasks to help youngsters with self-actualization. Simone is also starting a transitional housing program for abused girls and seeks partnership to complete that project as it is her passion. Simone retired from basketball in 2006.
This is a complex and fascinating story. Jamaicans who feel proud of their heritage should read this book. Ultimately, I highly recommend this book for everyone else. Make every effort to meet Simone who has a winning personality and a killer sense of humor.