When Dublin footballer Philly McMahon lost his older brother John in 2012, it brought to an end a painful decade, during which John had slipped from the family circle into a deteriorating cycle of addiction. The effects were personally devastating, but amidst the loss there was a glimmer of hope, of opportunity, and what ultimately became the starting point for a journey of remarkable self-discovery.
In this profound and inspirational memoir, McMahon traces his and John’s paths, from his earliest recollections of their childhood through the maelstrom of Ballymun’s heroin epidemic. He considers the relationships, tensions, arguments and chance occurrences that pushed them in very different directions: Philly to university the boardroom and the hallowed turf of Croke Park; John to exile in London, heartbreak and, ultimately, tragedy.
Raw, vivid and intensely moving, The Choice is many things – an epic story of triumph in the face of adversity and loss, a family saga, a tribute to the redemptive power of sport – but above all it’s a stirring meditation on the roles compassion and resilience can play in shaping our lives, and those around us, for the better.
Philly McMahon is a mainstay of the current All-Ireland winning Dublin football team and has been awarded two All-Stars. An entrepreneur and social activist, he owns and operates a number of businesses, including three gyms and Fit Food, a meal preparation service. Since losing his brother, John, in 2012, Philly has become an outspoken advocate for numerous addiction and mental health initiatives.
Niall Kelly is a journalist and Deputy Editor of The42.ie.