Imagine if your life was an open book? For Springbok captain Siya Kolisi that’s exactly what it is.
The release of his memoir Rise chronicles the rugby legend’s rise to greatness, from his humble beginnings in Zwide township in the Eastern Cape to being the first black man to lead South Africa to victory at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
The autobiography gives an intimate glimpse into his childhood and how the odds were stacked against him.
In one chapter, he recalls falling in with the wrong crowd after the death of his grandmother, with his aunt taking over as caregiver.
“It was at a time when I was starting to hang out with some kids a bit older than me and doing what they were doing: drinking, smoking weed, sniffing petrol,” he said.
“We’d squeeze five rands’ worth out of the pump, shake it up in a plastic bottle and inhale the fumes.
“I was only 8 or 9, thinking I was tough and just wanting to fit in. If I’d gone much further down that path, I could have ended up a tsotsi, a young criminal, and from there you only have two real options: jail or death. Or both.
“It was rugby that saved me.”
After reading the book, his wife Rachel Kolisi has shared her thoughts on the tome with fans, admitting that there were many stories she had never heard before.
Taking to Instagram, she penned a heartfelt tribute to her husband and praised his tenacity for overcoming adversity.
“I may be married to the guy but there were so many stories I had never heard before, I laughed, I sobbed, I often had to stop and think about the many important points that were raised,” she said.
“Siya has been so vulnerable on these pages, in the hopes that someone is impacted and chooses to live better, and dream bigger.
“A true South African story that I really believe should be in everyone’s hands. Unpacking toxic masculinity, GBV, how to manage pressure, and the importance of living with intention, to name just a few.
“Most importantly how to rise even when everyone expects you to fall,” she said.