The following is an excerpt from "FOX & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade's new book, "The Games Do Count, America's Best and Brightest on the Power of Sports."
New York City Police Commissioner
I grew up on the West Side of Manhattan and started playing ball in the street at the age of five or six. We’d use one of those pink Spaldeen balls for stoop ball or stickball.
Sports were a safety valve for me. With some of the things that went on in the environment I grew up in, I could easily have gone the wrong way. I think sports kept me out of trouble because, in my neighborhood, there were a lot of street fights. It was usually Irish versus Puerto Ricans. I remember one time my mother made us a boxing ring in the backyard and I fought another kid there. I also boxed a little in the CYO [Catholic Youth Organization].
The amazing thing about boxing is that it actually changes how your face looks from fight to fight. I broke my nose while boxing, probably because I had short arms and in boxing, without reach, you’re going to have a pretty hard time. I did have a relatively powerful upper body, though. In order to win, I had to get inside, but once I was in there, I usually did okay.
Football was my next sport, and it wasn’t too far from the little guy street fighting to the little guy in the ring fighting to getting into it on the football field. It was all tied into the ongoing process of proving myself. I have a fairly aggressive nature. I think it’s a primal instinct and it definitely helps me in my career and in life. I think I learned it from competing on the street.
By the time I was seven or eight, I got involved in CYO sports as well as joining a Pop Warner football team. I was a running back and on defense I was a linebacker. I broke my thumb and wrist on three separate occasions.
I always liked the competition. In fact, I even liked the pain. My mother wanted me to stop playing. She was always asking me, “Why do you do it?” And the answer is that it’s a testosterone thing that drives you to it.
Growing up, I was always small and yet I liked to hang with the big guys, which meant that I played with the big guys. I had to tackle these big guys and I learned that if I was going to be able to do it, I had to get the jump on them, tackle them early.
You learn things about yourself playing sports, and one of the things I learned was that although at the time I didn’t realize it, I had this Napoleon thing where I had to take on the big guy. I thought they were going to underestimate me—I was sure of that—and I would try and make them pay the price for it.
“I URGE EVERYONE ON THE FORCE TO STAY IN SHAPE.”
I go to the gym and work out every day. I stretch and I do cardio exercises. There a tradition of fitness associated with this job that started with Teddy Roosevelt when he was Commissioner in the late 1890s. He was a sickly kid who became a really fit adult. He built up his chest when he boxed at Harvard. He had this cowboy kind of mentality. And that’s something I can relate to.
As commissioner, I urge everyone on the force to keep in shape. We have them playing baseball, soccer, football, lacrosse, running. I like to have former athletes on the force, because they always display the discipline they learned from playing athletics.
The foregoing is excerpted from "The Games Do Count" by Brian Kilmeade. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.