Shamiel Gary wrote a kid's book inspired by his daughter

Shamiel Gary and his daughter, Lahray, the inspiration behind his children’s book

"What’s hard today will be easy tomorrow," says Shamiel Gary, quoting his jiujitsu instructor.

The 2009 Booker T. Washington graduate and former professional football player recently took up a new sport: becoming an author. After four years in the NFL, including stints with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, Gary retired in 2018.

A motivational speaker who has addressed over 100,000 kids and adults, Gary published "The Life of Lahray," inspired by his 4-year-old daughter, this spring.

"Writing a children’s book was very hard in the beginning," he says. "Now I’ve done it, so it’s going to be easy moving forward."

Gary, who credits a strong relationship with his own dad for shaping him as a man and a parent, wanted to depict a positive, competent image of fathers. As the father of a biracial daughter, Gary also wanted the characters to be people of color.

"I wanted to show fathers in their children’s lives being important and making an impact," he says.

In his work as a speaker, Gary noticed many kids "lack a true and deep belief in themselves." That observation inspired the stories in his book, one about the girl "who says she can’t," and the other about the girl with the crazy hair.

"I wanted to write stories that had something to do with believing in yourself and loving yourself because I think that is the most important thing you can do in your life," he says.

Gary, whose mom died from cancer a few years ago, recognizes the importance of living life intentionally and with purpose. "If people knew they had a timestamp, they would do things a little differently," he says. "Don’t waste time hesitating on the things you want in life, and don’t waste time hesitating to tell someone you love them."

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