Professional fighters have short career spans, and many struggle to find the next chapter of their lives. Kickboxer Ricky Lee found his through writing a children’s book inspired by his relationship to his granddaughter.
–By Rachel M. Anderson
Ricky Lee of Plymouth, Minnesota has made a name for himself worldwide as a professional kickboxer, and has been involved with martial arts since 1971. Now retired, the 55-year-old currently trains fighters and people who are serious about staying fit.
But turns out there’s a softer side to the martial arts aficionado, brought out by his now four-year-old granddaughter, Jocelyn:
“When my granddaughter was a baby and would have trouble falling asleep I would play music for her—guitar and harmonica—and read too. Reading has always been part of her bedtime ritual. And as I read more and more books I thought, you know, I want to do one of these.”
As anyone who knows Lee will tell you, once he sets his mind to something he works at it until he gets it done. It took more than a year to complete the project, but his first children’s book is now on the market.
Pappy & Me begins at the park where then three-year-old Jocie and her grandpa have come to play. From upon his shoulders she marvels at the colors, shapes and noises all around her. Then Pappy puts her down and they begin to play. They dig in the dirt, swing on the swings, run a race and share insights.
“I’m not a good spectator. I’m a doer. It’s much more entertaining for me personally to participate and interact with others, especially when I’m with my granddaughter,” he said.
Lee did a lot of the writing for what has ended up being his first published children’s book at a Starbucks coffee shop near home. He also found the book’s artist there. At the time, Johannah Erickson was a barista at Starbucks. She is now a part-time art teacher at Providence Academy, a private school in the Twin Cities.
“Working on this book has been a very rewarding experience,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about collaboration and have been able to use my skills and love of drawing and painting to create something fun and meaningful for kids.”
Lee is intending to publish other books in the near future. He is currently working on a short story collection, and also has another children’s book in the works. Pappy & Me was published by Wise Ink Creative and Publishing of Minneapolis and retails for $15.95. Check it out on Amazon.com:
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