ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Pro basketball player Pete Maravich once said, “Somewhere out there in the country, there’s somebody practicing harder than you.” That theoretical opponent has inspired many young athletes to train harder and do better. Today, we know that man is Clayton Brooks.

“When you work as hard as we did to survive, then that makes you tougher later in your adult life. There’s nothing that bothers me now,” Brooks shared with KTAB/KRBC.

Brooks on the McMurry Basketball team

In actuality, that quote was a guiding principle for Brooks as he rose through the ranks of Abilene High School and McMurry University basketball. While sports have been a constant in his life, his book, Second Hand Shoes & Day-Old Bread is not about basketball, but the childhood and people which led him to his success.

As his account goes, for years, Brooks would regale his friends with tales of his upbringing and his father, Mr. James Perry Clayton, an escaped convict from a Georgia chain gang that made his way down to Texas to start his second family, of which Brooks was the youngest of five children.

“Each one of us has our own story, but everyone was successful,” said Brooks.

Brooks’ father, James Perry Clayton

While Brooks’ father’s misdeeds made for a difficult life for he and his siblings, he told KTAB/KRBC he wouldn’t change a thing about the way he was raised. Instead, he said he was thankful that the hardships they went through made them into the resilient, successful people they are today. As well as inspiring the very literal title of his book.

“We never had anything to eat. Food was a big item with us… Regular bread was 18 cents and day-old bread was 9 cents from Mrs. Baird’s. So, I bought the day-old bread,” Brooks recalled.

As for the secondhand shoes, Brooks shared a memory of a turning point in his childhood when in the second grade he was faced with a decision. Go to school in his cardboard-soled shoes or chuck them in the dumpster and forego the bullies taunts, “At 7 or 8 years old, I made a huge decision. I threw those shoes away and I went to school barefooted.”

It wasn’t an easy decision, but decisions rarely are when you and your family face hunger and hardship nearly every day.

“I could live on 20 dollars a week now because I know what to buy. I’ve been there before, I could do it again if I had to,” Brooks added.

His book can be found on the shelves of Texas Star Trading in Downtown Abilene or ordered by placing a call to the author himself for delivery by calling (972) 975-0265.