Football Hero by Tim Green
Accelerated Reader: Level: 5.1. Pts. 9
Chapters 1-11 (12 Questions)

From School Library Journal: (Gr 5-8) In this novel by a former NFL star, middle schooler Ty Lewis is going through a tough time following the death of his parents. He has been taken in by his aunt and uncle, but they treat him badly, dressing him in hand-me-downs, making him sleep on a mattress on the floor of the laundry room, and forcing him to use a portable toilet in the backyard even though there is a bathroom in the house.Ty is having problems at school as well, where his appearance, social status, and bookishness lead to his being bullied.

Through all his troubles, Ty is buoyed by his faith in his older brother, who is an All-American college football player soon to sign a lucrative pro contract. Ty has his own dreams of football glory after being recruited by the middle school coach, who has noticed that Ty is the fastest boy in the sixth grade. His plans are derailed, however, when his uncle makes him work after school in his cleaning business.

After Thane signs his pro contract, Uncle Gus's organized-crime associates press Ty for inside information on injured players on Thane's team, which he innocently supplies. This gets both brothers in trouble with the FBI, but they cooperate with authorities and all ends well.

While there are some implausible elements (including Ty's overpowering a crowbar-wielding mafia hitman), the novel is briskly paced and undemanding, and might be a good bet for sports-minded reluctant readers.