Ashe raps promiscuity of heroes Wilt, Magic in his final memoir Book sets advice for daughter, 6


NEW YORK -- In a memoir he toiled on until his death fro AIDS, Arthur Ashe leaves behind some harsh words for Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson, along with touching words to guide his young daughter.

Mr. Ashe politely but decidedly slam-dunks the basketball heroes for proudly telling tales of their promiscuous ways.

Mr. Ashe says he felt "pity" for Mr. Chamberlain -- who claims to have bedded 20,000 women -- and says the HIV-positive Mr. Johnson "seemed to be boasting" about his sexual past even as he warned against the danger of AIDS.

"African-Americans have spent decades denying that we are sexual primitives by nature, as racists have argued since the days of slavery," he writes in "Days of Grace," which hits bookstores this week.

"These two college-trained black men of international fame and immense personal wealth do their best to reinforce the stereotype."

But the heart of the book is a letter to Camera Ashe, 6, in which the tennis legend tells a father's dream of a proud future for his daughter, while admonishing her to never forget the importance of family.

"Along the way you will stumble, and perhaps even fall," he writes. "Get up, get back on your feet, chastened but wiser, and continue on down the road.

"I may not be walking with you all the way, or even much of the way.

"Don't be angry with me if I am not there in person, alive and well, when you need me . . . I will be watching and smiling and cheering you on."

The book, written with Arnold Rampersad and published by Knopf, chronicles the tennis hero's final days as he battled AIDS and takes on topics ranging from sex to politics to religion.

Mr. Ashe says he never feared death -- even after he was diagnosed in 1988 with AIDS, contracted through a blood transfusion. But he says he would have been "devastated" if he had infected Camera or his wife, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe. Both have tested negative for the AIDS virus.

"With AIDS I have good days and bad days," writes Mr. Ashe, who died Feb. 6 at age 49. "The good days, thank goodness, greatly outnumber the bad. And the bad days are not unendurable."

The Wimbledon and U.S. Open winner also:

* Defends himself against criticism that he wasn't a strong enough political leader.

"The problem with you, Arthur, is that you're not arrogant enough," Mr. Ashe quotes Jesse Jackson as saying in the early 1970s.

"You're right, Jesse," Mr. Ashe answers. "But I don't think my lack of arrogance lessens my effectiveness one bit."

* Reveals that he mulled running for Congress from the upper East Side in the mid-1970s, as a Democrat. But he also admits voting for George Bush in 1988.

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