Frank Deford is among the most versatile of American writers. His work has appeared in virtually every medium, including print, where he has written eloquently for Sports Illustrated since 1962. Deford is currently the magazine's Senior Contributing Writer and contributes a weekly column to SI.com.
Deford can be heard as a commentator each week on Morning Edition. On television he is a regular correspondent on the HBO show Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. He is the author of 15 books, and his latest,The Enitled, a novel about celebrity, sex and baseball, was published in 2007 to exceptional reviews. He and Red Smith are the only writers with multiple features in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. Editor David Halberstam selected Deford's 1981 Sports Illustrated profile on Bobby Knight (The Rabbit Hunter) and his 1985 SI profile of boxer Billy Conn (The Boxer and the Blonde) for that prestigious anthology. For Deford the comparison is meaningful. "Red Smith was the finest columnist, and I mean not just sports columnist," Deford told Powell's Books in 2007. "I've always said that Red is like Vermeer, with those tiny, priceless pieces. Five hundred words, perfectly chosen, crafted. Best literary columnist, in any newspaper, that I've ever seen."
Deford was elected to the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. Six times at Sports Illustrated Deford was voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of The Year. The American Journalism Review has likewise cited him as the nation's finest sportswriter, and twice he was voted Magazine Writer of The Year by the Washington Journalism Review. Deford has also been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles; a Christopher Award; and journalism honor awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University; and he has received many honorary degrees. The Sporting News has described Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media," and the magazine GQ has called him, simply, "The world's greatest sportswriter." In broadcast, Deford has won a Cable Ace award, an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award for his television work. In 2005 ESPN presented a television biography of Deford's life and work, You Write Better Than You Play. Deford has spoken at well over a hundred colleges, as well as at forums, conventions and on cruise ships around the world. He served as the editor-in-chief of The National Sports Daily in its brief but celebrated existence. Deford also wrote Sports Illustrated's first Point After column, in 1986.
Two of Deford's books, the novel, Everybody's All-American, and Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis, have been made into movies. Two of his original screenplays have also been filmed.
For 16 years Deford served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he remains chairman emeritus. He resides in Westport, CT, with his wife, Carol. They have two grown children – a son, Christian, and a daughter, Scarlet. A native of Baltimore, Deford is a graduate of Princeton University, where he has taught American Studies.
The Best Of Friends For 35 years, photographer Howard Bingham has traveled the globe, meeting princes and presidents, all thanks to his selfless devotion to a buddy, Muhammad Ali, who happens to be the most famous man in the world.
From the SI Vault: Frank Deford writes in the Dec. 17, 1984, issue of Sports Illustrated about Martina Navratilova's loss to Helena Sukova to end her bid for the calendar Grand Slam at the Australian Open.