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First Year Read 2015-16

My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change

By Sam Bracken; brought to life by Echo Garrett

About the Authors:

SAM BRACKEN is general manager of FranklinCovey Media Publishing and spokesperson for the My Orange Duffel Bag Foundation.

ECHO GARRETT, a journalist with thirty years of experience, co-founded the My Orange Duffel Bag Foundation and works to support its mission.



 My Orange Duffel Bag

Sam's Story

Sam Bracken shares his story of growing up in Las Vegas with mobsters and motorcycle gang members as his role models. Abused by his wannabe mobster stepfather Leroy and a sadistic older stepbrother, Sam started drinking and doing drugs by age 9. As a 13-year-old his love of sports led him to quit drugs and drinking. He languished in special education classes until an eighth grade teacher discovered he just needed glasses.

His mom suffered a mental breakdown and abandoned Sam, then 15. Despite being essentially homeless throughout high school, Sam graduated with a 3.9 GPA as #11 out of a class of 720 and won a full ride football scholarship to the Georgia Institute of Technology. When Sam left Las Vegas, everything he owned in the world fit into an orange duffel bag. After a standout year as a freshman Georgia Tech football player, Sam suffered seemingly career-ending shoulder injuries.

Once again, Sam beat the odds, eventually re-earning his starting position on the team and graduating with honors. Today the abused, homeless teen has grown into a man who lives the American dream with his wife Kim, three boys and a daughter. As an executive with Franklin Covey, Sam travels all over the world speaking on change, leadership and excellence.

Watch the video (2:33)




  • 2011 Outstanding Book of the Year in Young Adult/Children's from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the first self-published book in the organization's 60-year history to win an award.

  • 2011 Merit Award for Editorial Design from HOW Magazine.

  • 2011 Benjamin Franklin Book Award Silver Medalist in both Self Help and Juvenile/Young Adult Nonfiction categories from the Independent Book Publishers Association.

  • 2011 IPPY Gold Medal from Independent Publishers Book Awards for Most Outstanding Design out of 4,000 entries from 14 countries.

  • 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Winner in these two categories: New Non-Fiction and Young Adult Non-Fiction.

Other Books by Sam Bracken

  • My Roadmap: A Personal Guide to Balance, Power, and Purpose by the Authors of My Orange Duffel Bag (Sam Bracken; Echo Garrett)
  • Unwind! 7 Principles for a Stress-Free Life (Michael Olpin; Sam Bracken)

Other Materials in the Davenport University Library Collection