Not Without Hope: The Tragic But Inspiring True Story: As Seen on The Today Show

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Exactly one year ago, four friends went on a fishing trip off the coast of Florida. Two days later, only one man returned. This is his story.

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I could not have my mother come to my funeral. A year later, that is the best explanation I can give.

In the vein of Touching the Void and Between a Rock and a Hard Place, NOT WITHOUT HOPE by Nick Schuyler and Jere Longman is the true story of the headline-making tragedy that took the lives of three men (two of them promising NFL players)––a tale of survival and determination, friendship and loss, love and hope against unfathomable odds––told from the remarkable young man who alone survived.

What began as a relaxing fishing party became a harrowing tale of death and survival against almost impossible odds. On Saturday February 28, 2009, 24-year-old personal trainer, Nick Schuyler and three football friends––Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, 26, Detroit Lions defensive end Corey Smith, 29, and Will Bleakley, 25, a teammate from the University of South Florida––sailed away from Tampa Bay for a day of fun in the Gulf of Mexico.

But 35 miles off the coast of Florida, their 21-foot boat flipped, hurling the four athletes into the rough water. For more than 12 hours, the foursome gripped the boat as the temperature dropped to 60 degrees and the waves climbed to more than 10 feet. Donning the life jackets Bleakley bravely retrieved from inside the overturned craft, the friends passed the time swapping stories of loved ones and memories from the gridiron. Yet to Schuyler’s horror, he watched as one by one, Marquis then Corey, and finally his best friend Will succumbed to hypothermia brought on by the choppy seas and cold temperatures. As the hours lengthened, Schuyler held two of the men in his arms as they passed, powerless to save them, and watched in horror another (delirious from the cruel effects of hypothermia) tear off his life jacket, and dive beneath the icy surface never to be seen again.

Left alone––cold, despondent, in pain, and exhausted––Schuyler remained at sea for more than forty hours (holding on to the sharp propeller, hoping against hope and clinging to the thought that he couldn’t bear to have his mother attend his funeral) before the Coast Guard miraculously rescued him. NOT WITHOUT HOPE is much more than a story of survival. It is an inspiring story of friendship, resolve, and courage.

Nick Schuyler's ordeal made national headlines and the book's publication will coincide with the anniversary of the tragedy. Since the tragedy, Schuyler has formed the Nick Schuyler Foundation, which supports a number of charitable causes, including the U.S. Coast Guard, which helped save his life.

Nick Schuyler lives in Tampa, Florida, where he is still a personal trainer.

Jere Longman is a sportswriter for the New York Times, whose previous books include the New York Times bestseller Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back; The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and How It Changed the World; If Football’s a Religion, Why Don’t We Have a Prayer?: Philadelphia, Its Faithful, and the Eternal Quest for Sports Salvation; and The Hurricanes: One High School Team’s Homecoming after Katrina.


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