Michael Leahy (author)

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Michael Leahy
Born 1953 (age 63–64)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Author, journalist
Genre Nonfiction
Notable works When Nothing Else Matters
Hard Lessons
Children 1

Michael Leahy (born 1953) is an American author and award-winning writer for The Washington Post and The Washington Post Magazine. He is best known for his second book, When Nothing Else Matters, which chronicles basketball superstar Michael Jordan's last comeback to the NBA.[1] Leahy's stories have also been selected for the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 editions of The Best American Sports Writing anthologies.[2] His first book, Hard Lessons, follows the lives of six Beverly Hills High School students, class of 1986, and deals with the challenges and anxieties of teenage life in modern America.[3]

Early life[edit]

Leahy was born in Newark, New Jersey. At age 10, he moved with his family to a suburb of Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate of Yale University.


A highly regarded feature writer known for his intimate portraits of subjects, Leahy explores everything from social issues to sports. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and his work has appeared in Playboy Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

Leahy has published two non-fiction books: Hard Lessons (1988) and When Nothing Else Matters (2004), which was heralded by GQ Magazine as "the best sports book of the year."

Along the way, he has written about subjects as wide-ranging as presidential politics, rural poverty, obesity in the American South, malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, the housecleaner dubbed fisherman-savior of Elian Gonzalez, the Army’s recruiting efforts amid the specter of the Iraq war, corporate scandals, a nudist camp, his mother’s struggles with Alzheimer's, and the playing comeback of basketball legend Michael Jordan in Washington.


  • His story on the life of a paroled child murderer spared execution in the early '70s because of a Supreme Court decision that briefly rendered the death penalty unconstitutional won the Washington D.C. Society of Professional Journalists’ best feature story award.
  • In 2006, his Washington Post Magazine story about a single mother from Massachusetts who took her two young children across the country to meet their father – a sperm donor known to the woman for years only as Donor 929 – won honors from the Society of Professional Journalists as the best magazine story in the country for that year.
  • His sports work has been selected four times for The Best American Sports Writing anthologies, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, which annually features the 25 best sports stories in the nation.


"Michael Sokolove author of The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw Leahy is that most unwelcome of characters around a pro sports team: a truth-teller...a tough-minded, fair, and gripping account that reveals something far more interesting than Michael Jordan the icon" – he gives us Jordan, the man.

Glenn Stout, series editor, of The Best American Sports Writing: Michael Leahy may be the first author to overcome his awe of Michael Jordan and let us see another Jordan, the legend in the autumn of his career. In this book we don't just meet a myth streaking across the sky"

"Stephanie Davis, GQ, November '04: No one's covered Michael Jordan like Michael Leahy. In 2001, Leahy a staff writer for The Washington Post, was assigned to write about the legend's return to basketball with the Washington Wizards and nearly everything he did off court as well...easily the most fully formed portrait of Jordan ever written and one of the best sports books in recent memory.


In his review of When Nothing Else Matters, English journalist Simon Barnes of The Times wrote "A better book, a perceptive writer, might have noticed that there was something heroic in all this: but Leahy is too deeply committed to his premise that everything Jordan does is, by definition, shameful."


Leahy resides with his wife in a suburb of Washington D.C.


  1. ^ Barnes, Simon. "When Nothing Else Matters by Michael Leahy", The Times, January 15, 2005. Accessed April 12, 2008.
  2. ^ Michael Leahy, Simon & Schuster. Accessed April 12, 2008.
  3. ^ Hailey, Kendall. "Down and Out at Beverly Hills High HARD LESSONS Senior Year at Beverly Hills High School by Michael Leahy", The Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1988. Accessed April 12, 2008.