Author and poet Jim Carroll was just 12 years old when he started writing "The Basketball Diaries."
Cassie Carter, a Carroll scholar, explained that he got his start at the Poetry Project, a nonprofit foundation where Carroll met a number of big poets who helped him develop his diction.
"He would help out at the readings with the big poets would come to town," Carter told InsideEdition.com. "And the poets around him started noticing him. And so he was able to work with some of the greatest poets on the scene and in the United States at the time, that were supportive of him."
It was there he was able to workshop "The Basketball Diaries," an autobiographical book about Carroll's life on the streets of Manhattan, his basketball career and his addiction to heroin, which he financed as a sex worker.
When it was published in 1978, "The Basketball Diaries" was an immediate literary sensation.
"I think one of the things that is interesting about him, I think, for young people to look at is just this idea of the athlete," said Carter. "We've got this culture of, you've got to be all tough and all masculine and strong and all of that, and that it doesn't go with say, poetry. Well, here's an example of somebody who was among the best athletes of his age and he was this poet."
Carroll died of a heart attack at the age of 60. Watch the video above to learn more.