I read Steve Scalise’s Back in the Game hours after learning that George HW Bush had died and Nick Jonas had gotten married, so I cried a lot that weekend. Though Scalise’s memoir of the Congressional Baseball Practice shooting and his long road to recovery is absolutely heartbreaking and nerve-wracking to read, it’s also a testament to the man that he prioritizes the heroes who saved his life and their stories as well as his own story.
On June 14th, 2017, Steve Scalise was on second base at baseball practice, looking forward to getting into the office that morning and negotiating a red snapper deal. But then a gunman started firing through the chainlink fence, and Scalise was done, unable to move his legs. As he began to crawl, using just his arms, he had a vision of his daughter walking alone down the aisle at her wedding. He kept crawling. Off the field, Scalise’s security detail were taking on the gunman, risking their own lives to keep those men on the field safe. When the situation is finally neutralized, when the gunman is finally taken down, heroes rush to Scalise’s side, friends and fellow congressmen and doctors and staffers and there begins the series of miracles, as Scalise views them, that kept him alive. I won’t spoil anything here, but you know he survived. What I didn’t know, even as someone who followed this story closely, was just how close Scalise was to not surviving. I loved hearing about his family’s reaction, his wife’s disbelief, and ultimately his son’s fist pump when he found out the shooter was dead.
This book is about Scalise and his journey, sure, but there are so many other heroes throughout, doctor’s who trusted their teams to do such surgeries, staffers who wouldn’t let Steve give up, friends and family who supported his wife and children, and security detail who not only protected him with their lives and took down the gunman but gave him support and good laughs for months to come.
This book wrecked me in all the best ways. It’s gripping narrative, heartbreaking triumph over violence and pain, and ultimately a story of community and togetherness when things could have so easily have cracked.