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Deion Sanders' book dedication and six men who impacted his journey

Get to know those behind Coach Prime's story and how they played a role in his success
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Deion Sanders released his latest book 'Elevate and Dominate: 21 Ways to Win On and Off the Field' on Tuesday. It's a series of stories based on experiences from Sanders’ life, including "being raised by a single mother who sacrificed and worked non-stop to support her family, being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, earning his place as a head coach with a Division I football team, and being a dedicated father of five accomplished children."

The Colorado Buffaloes coach previously announced a four-stop book tour, which kicks off this week outside of New York City and ends back at the Macky Auditorium in Boulder on March 18. 

There are several takeaways from Sanders' career inside the twenty-one chapters of his novel, including who he dedicated his work to and their impacts on his journey. Here are six men who helped lay the foundation for Coach Prime.

 Jimmy Callaway

One of Sanders' earliest father figures was Jimmy Callaway. The longtime Florida State football equipment manager served in Tallahassee for over 50 years and was instrumental to many, including Sanders. Some of his best years came under Bobby Bowden and he retired after the Noles won a National Championship in 1999. Callaway died in 2020 at the age of 85 due to heart failure. Coach Prime keeps his memory alive on every game day with 'JC' stitched on his right sleeve.

Ron Hoover

Sanders was blessed to have another mentor early in his life. It's clear the words of North Fort Myers High coach Ron Hoover left an impression on him. He helped turn out "Prime Time" to the world as one of the most decorated players from southern Florida. Hoover led the Red Knights to 117 wins over 18 seasons, including the mid-80s with Sanders. Like Callaway, Hoover is now an ancestor and passed away at the age of 88 during Coach Prime's final year at Jackson State in 2022.

“Coach Hoover really was the first person that I truly understood discipline and leadership, and it came in those consecutive terms,” Sanders told USA TODAY. “He disciplined me, which turned into leadership for me. And I never looked back.”

Dave Capel

Sanders has always given back to those who've helped him along the way. It's no surprise he mentioned his Pop Warner coach Dave Capel as one of the men who was influential in his life. Capel was Sanders' original coach in the late 70s for the Fort Myers Rebels. Coach Prime developed a bond with the Capel family that lasted for decades, even flying Dave and his wife Helen out to watch him play in Super Bowls. Capel passed away the Saturday before Sanders Hall of Fame enshrinement in Canton at the age of 77.

“I thank God for Dave and Helen Capel, my pop warner coach and wife from Ft. Myers, Florida,” Sanders wrote after his passing. “They loved me like their own child, made sure me and my teammates did homework, kept our grades well above average, disciplined us and exposed us to many things that provoked us to dream big.”

Mims Sanders

The man who taught Prime a lot about himself was Mims Sanders. The father of Coach Prime never got to see his son develop into the leader he is today. He was taken by a brain tumor in 1993 at the age of 50. The untimely news came during Sanders' final year with the Atlanta Falcons. Sanders has outlived his father's life span by six years. His parents divorced when he was two years old, which left Sanders trying to parent from afar. Not an easy task, but one he didn't take lightly. 

Willie J. Knight

One of the men who played a vital role in Sanders' life was his stepfather. Much more than the title, Knight married Mama Connie when Deion was eight and picked up the pieces. He helped mold Sanders during his formidable years by providing a better life for him and his family. Knight passed away four years after Sanders in 1997. Prime used to pay tribute to both men each time he reached base by tapping his chest and pointing skyward.

Bishop Omar Jahwar

Deion's spiritual advisor found him at the right time in his life. Jahwar was considered one of Dallas' top religious figures who has enacted change around 'Big D'. He was one of the mentors to guide Sanders towards a better life with purpose after a suicide attempt. While Sanders is able to use his faith as fuel for his motivation, he'll never say it is through ministry. That's a testament of Jahwar's teachings being used as a vessel in Sanders' life. The longtime community activist and church leader died of complications from COVID-19 three years ago at the age of 47.  

'Elevate and Dominate: 21 Ways to Win On and Off the Field' is available now

Sanders' book is the latest from Gallery Books under the 13A label. The "new imprint" spotlighting renowned and relevant Black voices in culture and politics. They've published several New York Times bestsellers, including Janet Jackson's True You; Patti LaBelle’s Recipes for the Good Life; Congressman Keith Ellison’s My Country, Tis of Thee; Kris Jenner’s, Kris Jenner... and All Things Kardashian; and E.  Lynn Harris’ Mama Dearest.