- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Malachi Thompson, 8, plays baseball, basketball and football, but his mom said he doesn’t show much interest in any one sport.

His mother, Kalandria Thompson, said she hopes reading the new children’s book based on World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s hard work ethic will help her son set a goal and stick to it.

“My son, especially being that he is in sports and is coming of age, my biggest concern for him is that he sticks with whatever he wants to do,” Thompson said. “I think (the book) should show him some bit of diligence (and) show him the outcome of sticking to your dreams.”

As Malachi turned the pages of “Deontay the Future World Champ,” he said he noticed that the young Wilder portrayed in the book was training hard to reach his goal. Malachi said the book, which is about setting goals, sticking to them, exercising, eating healthy and avoiding peer pressure, will help him reach his goals because he will “keep reading it.”

More than 100 kids and parents gathered at the Weaver Bolden branch of the Tuscaloosa Public Library Thursday night to hear from Wilder and have their books signed, an event that was part of the library’s summer reading program known as “Every Hero has a Story.”

The first 200 kids ages 12 and under were given a free copy of the book purchased by the library with help from Nick’s Kids Foundation, Harrison Construction, Fosters Veterinary Clinic and Friends of the Library.

Books were also for sale for $20. The proceeds from the sale went to 9-year-old Titus Wilkerson, who was attacked by a pit bull while walking home from school in April.

“We know we can’t help with a $2 million medical bill,” said Wilder’s co-manager Jay Deas. “When it comes to things like getting his family to Birmingham, hotels, food, time off work, all those kinds of things, those are things we can realistically help with through the sale of the book.”

Wilder said when he heard Titus’ story, he wanted to help in some way because he has a love for kids.

Wilder said that also is the reason he agreed to create the book with author Tony Bowers and illustrator Dan Monroe.

“My passion is for kids,” Wilder said. “I do believe it starts when kids are young to install in them the principle of being a hard worker.”

And that is what the book is about.

Wilder said the book tells a story about how other kids played on the playground and went for ice cream while he was focused on training to become the heavyweight champion.

He told kids in the crowd Thursday night to “get the book, read the book, study the book and abide by the book, because this is the blueprint of becoming successful, of being somebody great in life.”

“What I want them to take away from this book is how to develop being a hard worker,” he said. “The hardest thing about being a human is that we tend to give up so easily… and never accomplish nothing. In this book, I want the kids to learn that you have to be different from others and you’ve got to apply pressure to goals and reaching your goals.”

Nine-year-old Emily Scroggins said following Wilder’s career has inspired her to reach her goal of becoming an engineer.

“(The book) has taught me to work hard, and if you do that you will get your dreams,” Emily said. “I will use this book in my future. I think it will help me be a better person.”

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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