A son chronicles the rise and fall of his father, an infamous benefactor of amateur athletes in Detroit, in this debut book.
Ed Martin was born in Georgia in 1934 and largely raised there. But he fell in love with Detroit after living there for a few months as a child and moved back in 1952. Ambitious, hardworking, and intellectually gifted, he became an electrician for the Ford Motor Company. An avid gambler and sports enthusiast, he started an illegal lottery business in the ’60s, an enterprise that came to be worth millions in annual revenue and netted Ed an income that rivaled any top professional basketball player of the era. He was eager to share his largesse and became a “booster” of local basketball talent, financially supporting and recruiting promising young players during the ’80s and ’90s. In fact, he was instrumental in assembling the famous “Fab Five” team at the University of Michigan, which included Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, both of whom went on to become NBA standouts. But Ed’s life collapsed in 1996 when an expensive Ford Explorer occupied by University of Michigan players and a high school recruit was in an accident after visiting his home to solicit money, raising several red flags about the booster’s violations of NCAA rules. Carl Martin, Ed’s son, meticulously documents his father’s investigation by federal authorities as well as his own case—the author spent 15 months in prison for financial crimes. He also furnishes a vivid biography of Ed’s life and documents his own involvement in his father’s gambling business. But the centerpiece of the engrossing story is Ed’s relationships with Webber and Rose, to whom he lent hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the manner in which each supposedly betrayed him after he was pursued by the authorities. Martin’s account is cinematically intriguing, not only for its rendering of the illicit financial dealings that had become so common in college basketball, but also for its artfully told story of Ed’s own meteoric rise. And despite his loyalty to his father, the author’s assessments are always fair and sometimes-unflinching: “My father was no saint, no Robin Hood, nor was he a one-dimensional villain in a black hat.”
A thrilling story sure to interest sports fans.