Power Forward: My Presidential Education
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A Washington Post bestseller, Power Forward is a compelling professional coming-of-age story from Reggie Love, the man who spent more time with Barack Obama during his historic first campaign and term than anyone else.
Reggie Love is a unique witness to history, whose introduction to Washington was working in Junior Senator Barack Obama’s mailroom. As “body man” to Obama during his first presidential campaign, Love’s job was to stay one step behind the candidate, but think and act three steps ahead during a typical eighteen-hour workday. As President Obama’s personal aide during that momentous first term, Love sat yards from the Oval Office and often spent more time with the President than anyone else. While his experiences were unique, the lessons he learned during his tenure with the President are universal. Persistence. Responsibility. Passion for a cause greater than yourself. In short, maturity.
Love has been singularly lucky in his mentors. At Duke University, where he was a walk-on and a captain of its fabled basketball team, Love learned from Coach Krzyzewski that sports builds character—from President Obama, Love learned that how you conduct your life defines your character.
Accountability and serving with honor were learned during unsought moments: co-coaching with Malia Obama’s and Sasha Obama’s basketball team with the President; lending Obama his tie ahead of a presidential debate; managing a personal life when no hour is truly your own. From his first interview with Senator Obama, to his near-decision not to follow the President-elect to the White House, Love drew on Coach K’s teachings as he learned to navigate Washington. But it was while owning up to (temporarily) losing the President’s briefcase, playing pick-up games in New Hampshire to secure votes, babysitting the children of visiting heads of state, and keeping the President company at every major turning point of his historic first campaign and administration, that Love learned how persistence and passion can lead not only to success, but to a broader concept of adulthood.
Power Foward is a professional coming-of-age story like no other.
I had “a problem with alcohol.” She was worried about history repeating itself in the family. After the UNC photos came out, I became a person of interest. As those shots circulated virally, people started looking at me more closely, and the DUI was unearthed and reported in the local papers. Which is how it came to the attention of the Duke coaching staffs, four months after the fact. Mostly they were pissed that they had been caught off-guard. I got a call from Ben Reese, the dean of
quick to shut my complaining down. “You don’t know how good you have it,” he’d say, then walk away. He never helped me carry a single thing. It was a matter of principle. Once, Obama said to him, “Hey, Marvin, you going to help Reggie out?” And Marvin shook his head no. “Reggie needs to earn his stripes. I’ve earned mine.” From that day forward I never asked Marvin for assistance with anything. Even if he tried to step in, I’d be clear: “Don’t touch anything, I’ve got it.” It became a point of
legitimate blowout. Duhon bartended. We all danced to my iPod. The shindig made the Washington Post. More vitally to me, the party allowed me to show my appreciation for all the individuals who had helped shape me into the man I was becoming. The President did the same on his own birthdays. On his forty-ninth, we organized the now legendary basketball games with four teams including LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning, Shane Battier, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and Maya Moore. For his gift, he wanted a
and uncle who supported me every step of the way. Alice Poole, Wesley Jackson, Jimmy Mercer, and Ann Hitchcock—in their loving memory, I know they are still with me today. The Providence Day School community took me in with open arms and nourished my academic career at a very critical junction. I appreciate the teachers and administrators who not only pushed me but also held me accountable: Rhea Caldwell, Kay Montross, Eric Hedinger, Ted Dickson, John Patterson, David Carrier, Joe Fortier, Jim
trip to New York for the campaign the city still had a sense of grandeur to me. We would be attending a couple of fundraisers and then an event hosted by Tracy Maitland, one of the most powerful African-American men in media, someone I had long admired and respected. Maitland had put together a who’s who of African-American moguls, including Russell Simmons, Pepsi guru Frank Cooper, financier Brian Mathis, L.A. Reid, Andre Harrell, and about fifteen others who were set to meet Obama in