GREEN BAY—The story of a young Donald Driver living for a time out of a U-Haul trailer is well known, but many of the other details surrounding Driver’s upbringing are not.
Filling in those gaps was one goal of the Packers’ all-time leading receiver in his memoir, “Driven,” which hit bookshelves on Tuesday.
“The reason behind the book was just telling the story,” Driver said. “For me it was trying to put everything in perspective, and letting people know that regardless of what obstacles you may face in life, whatever adversity, that you can overcome anything. You just have to continue to believe that you can be successful.”
Driver spoke with packers.com via phone amidst various book tour obligations in New York City, including stops on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the FOX Business Channel and numerous national radio shows.
He is scheduled to do a book signing in Green Bay at Barnes & Noble on Wednesday night, followed by two book signings in Milwaukee on Thursday and one in Madison on Friday.
Driver said he sat down with both his mother and father in 2012 to get their permission to tell the stories of his youth, and to find out what they could add to the story. His father, who was diagnosed with lung cancer last winter and passed away earlier this year, actually added about 10 pages himself.
“He wanted people to know he made a lot of mistakes in life,” Driver said. “I made my mistakes in life as well.”
Driver said the book begins where it all starts, “with my mom meeting a young gentleman, thought he was the greatest man in the world and finds out he’s a con artist that’s taken her for everything she has.”
That started Driver’s unsettled and partially homeless childhood, hopping from school to school, which led to Driver and his siblings going “down the wrong path.” Among several breaking points was when a boyfriend of Driver’s mom pulls a gun on Driver, prompting the kids to be sent to live with their grandparents during Driver’s high school years.
Driver called that a middle-class environment, with both grandparents employed, but he didn’t exactly straighten himself out.
“I had everything I wanted, but I was still playing both sides of the fence,” he said. “I was going to church on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and all day Sunday, but when church was over, I was back in the streets.”
The book also chronicles his 14-year career with the Packers, of course, which included a Super Bowl championship and the franchise’s all-time records for receptions and receiving yards. All three of his children were also born while he was playing football.
Driver feels “blessed” to have played that long and accomplished so much, particularly when he sees injuries occur like the one to Packers tight end Jermichael Finley this past Sunday. Driver had a similarly scary moment back in 2003, when he landed awkwardly on his head after leaping to try to catch a pass.
It turned out to be just a sprained neck that sidelined him for only one game, but initially there was plenty of tension and uncertainty.
“It’s tough. I was laying up in a hospital bed, thinking my career was over,” he said. “I remember my wife telling me she wanted me to retire because she wanted me to be able to play with my son one day. I told her, ‘God’s not done with me yet.’
“It’s a tough decision Jermichael has to make. Only him and his family and God can make that decision.”
The idea of writing the book was in the works for a few years, and Driver said many in his inner circle thought he should write it after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV in early 2011.
But the timing didn’t feel right to Driver, and he’s glad he waited, as the “Dancing With The Stars” title and a special retirement ceremony at Lambeau Field in front of the fans added some special moments and rounded things out for him.
“I just didn’t know what the final chapter was,” he said. “It wasn’t just about winning the Super Bowl. It was bigger than that. It came at the perfect time, walking away from the game when you know you can still play.
“It’s time for me to spend time with my wife and kids. My son is playing football and baseball, and he loves it. My daughter is a gymnast and competes every Saturday. Cristian watched me for 10 years, Christina watched me for eight, and Charity only watched me for a year, but now it’s time for Dad to watch them. That’s what it’s all about.”
Order a copy of Driver’s memoir, “Driven,” from the Packers Pro Shop by clicking here.