Professional athletes such as Roger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo see a yearly turnaround in figures that others can only dream of ever earning in a whole lifetime. They are true idols, the finest among us, and a chance to discover more about their principles and values, their lives, is not to be passed upon.

From baseball to gymnastics, this biographies and autobiographies list of some of the greatest sports figures in the world make for compulsory reading.

1. Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, written by David Maraniss

Killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve of 1972 when he attempted to deliver food and medicine to an earthquake-stricken Nicaragua, Roberto Clemente is one of the true heroes of American baseball. He was the first Latin American and Caribean player to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The star is known to have played the game better than most of his contemporaries and have won the Golden Glove for 12 consecutive seasons from 1961 to 1972. The only reason he didn’t enjoy the same amount of fame and stardom may be down to the fact that he played for the underachieving Pittsburgh Pirates.

Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning David Maraniss, Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero captures the myth and the real man.

2. Letters to a Young Gymnast, written by Nadia Comaneci

The name Nadia Comaneci is synonymous with gymnastics. The young Romanian girl became the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0. Nadia ushered in a new era for women’s sports as she attained the impossible at the young age of 14 in the Olympics1976.

In the Letters to a Young Gymnast, Nadia Comaneci writes as if she is replying to a pen pal’s questions about her life, narrating both dramatic and interesting anecdotes from the past, as well as describing the way how she set out to be a world-beater from such a young age. Letters to a Young Gymnast also reveals her relationship with the famous coach Bela Karolyi, which gives an interesting insight into the rarely understood dynamic between a coach and an athlete.