JH: What's your relationship with tennis now?
AA: I call it a hate-love relationship. I started with hate, but now, it's giving me my life. I made peace with it when I was 27 years old and every day thereafter. I think because of that, I have a real love for it.
JH: You've said the Andre Agassi College Prep Academy is your life's work. For someone that hated school about as much as he did tennis, how did you come to decide education was going to be your philanthropic focus?
AA: I felt the result of lack of education in my life. With no education, I had no choices. Without that, you find yourself in a life that's not yours. It felt like a crime to me—to see these kids out there in a broken educational system. These children without education have no hope or options. Without options, they have no hope—that's a pretty horrifying thought as to where they would end up. My lack of education led to a lack of choices. I wanted to provide them with a life of their choosing.
JH: This past June, you had the first class graduate. What did that feel like? What is your hope for these kids?
AA: It feels better than anything I've ever accomplished on a tennis court. My hope is they go away to college and they find themselves in a life they want to be in and have committed to. I hope they come back to their community and give back to the next generation, connect, be grateful, have empathy and make a difference.
JH: You dedicate part of the book to your own children, Jaden and Jaz. When they're old enough, what do you hope they gain from reading Open?
AA: People make mistakes. The power of tomorrow is what I want them to feel. I want them to feel like they can take ownership of their life at any juncture in their life. I want them to feel that empowerment. I want them to know that any point in our life can be a turning point—it can be our darkest or our finest. It's up to us to what we do with it.
JH: Now that you've gone through the process of looking back at your life, telling your story through Open, what do you know for sure?
AA: I know for sure that there's pain in life. We have to fight through our pain and find a way to get through it. Life is about fighting through that pain and, when you can, easing the pain of others.
Read an excerpt from Andre Agassi's Open.
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