Inspiring New Book: a young triathlete and his astonishing comeback

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Michael Vitez just couldn’t get one story out of his mind – and neither could his readers. Michael first wrote about a young man named Matt Miller who had everything and then, in an instant, nearly lost it all, as a three-part series for his newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer. He received an overwhelming response from readers, who, like Michael himself, were deeply touched by the inspiring, against-all-odds story and wanted to continue to follow it. Michael’s new book, “;The Road Back, A Journey of Grace and Grit,” launching this month through CreateSpace,’s self-publishing platform, celebrates the human spirit and the power of fidelity and faith as it follows one young man’s incredible, soaring comeback from what should have been sure death.

Matt Miller, then a standout student and athlete at the University of Virginia and member of his college triathlon club, and two classmates had just pedaled up a mountain pass. He was on top of the world in so many ways – Matt was in love with his high-school sweetheart, Emily, and had dreams of attending medical school. He was so fit his resting pulse was 42! But as he cycled along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway, he suddenly fell into an oncoming car and his life forever changed. Matt broke every bone in his face and suffered a massive brain injury. The real story though is not just about what took place on that terrible day, but what happened after. Today, Matt, 24, attends the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is engaged to Emily, who has stood by his side throughout his entire ordeal and is in medical school with him at Penn. Remarkably, Matt has completed a dozen triathlons and the Cozumel Ironman since the accident. In “;The Road Back,” Michael compellingly shares with readers the humbling and miraculous journey of Matt’s survival and recovery and the people who rode along with him, rescued him and helped him heal. It is truly a story of grace and grit, one that is as gripping as it is inspiring.

After writing about Matt for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael continued to watch him recover in the most astonishing ways. He was so taken with Matt’s courage and commitment, that Michael decided to take a leave from his job to more fully immerse himself in Matt’s life and write this book. The award-winning writer and author of the popular “Rocky Stories” (about the famed Philadelphia steps and all those who have come to run them) is one of the latest examples of the red-hot trend of established authors choosing to take control of their publishing “journey” and opting to self-publish their work. Though his new book centers on one young man from the Philadelphia area,  Matt’s amazing story and the book’s messages are universal. “The Road Back” is available in paperback on and as an e-book on Kindle, Nook and Ipad.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Vitez has been a staff writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer for 27 years. He won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for a series of stories about five people approaching the end of life. Vitez has taught classes in narrative non-fiction at the University of Pennsylvania and was a visiting Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton. He is also a former Michigan Journalism Fellow. He is the author of Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps. (2006, Paul Dry Books) He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he was editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily. He is married to Maureen Fitzgerald, food editor at the Inquirer, and they have three children. For the last 12 years, he has organized the annual triathlon at the Erlton Swim Club in Cherry Hill, NJ. 215-313-3518 @michaelvitez on Twitter.

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