My Orange Duffel Bag
a Journey to Radical Change
By: Sam Bracken with Echo Garrett
Book report by: Austin Stuhr

Have you heard the expression, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade? " Well that's exactly what Sam Bracken did!

From the beginning, Sam Bracken's life had the odds stacked against him. His brother Gerry, his sister Sissy and he, were raised in a dysfunctional family. They were sent to an orphanage when Sam was five but returned home when their mom married Leroy. His new step brother and step sister were bad influences on him because they introduced him to drugs. Sam's mom worked three jobs while Leroy sat on the couch all day drinking alcohol and abusing the kids.

Shortly after moving to Las Vegas, Sam discovered an interest in track. One day during track practice Sam collapsed because of drugs and alcohol.  That is when he realized that he didn't want to be like his family.  He would go on to break the state 880 yard run record

Also along the way he also discovered a love for football. When Sam was 15 years old, his mom abandoned him so he was in and out of friends houses for the rest of his high school years. Amazingly, Sam graduates high school with a GPA of 3.9. Sam would accept a full ride scholorship  from Georgia Tech. Sam left home with an orange duffel bag  filled with only a few clothing items.

Sam would letter his Freshman year in football. Sam was expected to be a big part of the linebacking core at Georgia Tech his Sophomore year. Unfortunately Sam was assigned broken shoulder pads in the Spring which resulted in Sam permanently injuring his shoulders. He was told that he may never play football again. His self-motivation got him back as a starting linebacker. Although Sam came back to play in college, he never made it to the NFL. Not because he wasn't recruited, but because he decided to pack up his orange duffel back and become a missionary. During one of his trips to Canada, he meets his future wife Kim and they would raise three sons and a daughter.

Through Sam's journey, he has followed "7 Rules for the Road."

1. Desire- You need to have the desire to be different before you can change. Ignite your flame of desire for some place in your wildest dreams.

2. Awareness- Be aware of your talent, have a destination in mind, then find your ticket and ride.

3. Meaning- What you value in your life is revealing. Check your internal compass for guidance.

4. Choice- Pick your path and start packing. Making the wrong choices or being paralyzed by fear will get you nowhere. The comfort zone is a dream killer.

5. Love- Choose your traveling companions wisely. Who you choose as your tour guide can make your journey memorable. Hang out with eagles and you will soar; hang out with pigs and you will stink!

6. Change- Enjoy the journey. Radical change is a power that lives in your soul. Radical change requires radical choices.

7. Gratitude- Share your adventures from your trip. Gratitude is evidence that you have packed your duffel bag right.

At the end of Sam Bracken's journey, his orange duffel bag was filled with nurtured relationships, gratitude from where he had been, and the joy, love, peace, and happiness that he has found.


What did I enjoy about the book?

I enjoyed Sam Bracken's never quit attitude. There were plenty of times that Sam's path was blocked but he took detours to find a better road. I actually liked how the book gave me assignments such as writing down "10 people whom you admire and what you admire about them." This book just makes you more understanding about the people around you and what they mean to you.

What was the tone of the book?

I thought the tone of this book was positive. This book was filled with inspirational quotes, life lessons, and motivational statements. With all of the darkness in Sam's life there was no self-pitty, just tools to turn the lemons into lemonade.

What was the author's purpose for writing this book?

His purpose of writing this book was to share Sam Bracken's story as well as everything he's learned about triumphing over adversity and the odds in his life so that we can create a positive and lasting change of our own.

Would I recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to everyone. Even if you don't like football or any sports you should still read it because the main purpose of this book is not about sports, it's about one man's will to fight through unthinkable odds and succeed in life.

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