The incredible true story of hope and inspiration, struggle and triumph: how former NBA star “Penny” Hardaway selflessly coached a young basketball team through the hardships of life—and to their first-ever state championship.
NBA All-Star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway had fame, fortune, and a Nike shoe line. Yet for all his basketball accomplishments, the one thing he lacked was a championship season.
Penny Hardaway, like so many pro athletes, struggled with the question of “What now?” when his whirlwind career came to an end in 2007. The answer came from one of his oldest friends, Desmond Merriweather, who was sick with colon cancer and could no longer commit to full-time coaching the Lester Middle School boys basketball team.
On These Courts is the moving story of a superstar who takes over coaching duties in the crime-ridden streets of Memphis he once called home. Coach Penny selflessly helped his young players navigate their way through impossible circumstances: failing grades, incarcerated fathers, gang pressures.
But this is not just a story about Penny; the true stars are the kids on the Lester Lions team who rewarded Penny with his first championship season, winning the state title by one point. A penny.
Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, the former pro-basketball star (who first played for the Orlando Magic), recently returned to his hometown of Memphis in a most unusual capacity: as middle school basketball coach. Hardaway initially volunteered to help head coach Desmond Merriweather, a longtime friend battling cancer. As Lester Middle School's head coach for the 2012 season, Hardaway provided a positive male role model for players who desperately needed one and was a source of pride for a community long plagued by drugs and violence. What could have been a stirring account of a city looking for redemption, however, is turned mawkish and maudlin by Drash's clumsy prose: "Penny let fly a three-pointer from so deep it seemed like he was standing across town at Elvis's home, Graceland." Drash attended a youth basketball camp with Hardaway and his description of the experience is one of the few instances in which he portrays Hardaway as a human being rather than as a saint shepherding wayward youths.
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Wayne and Penny Rock!
Great read. I met Wayne at a Red Sox game after the Boston Marathon bombings. It was a tough time but he was cool and we enjoyed a great game with Big Papi dropping the F Bomb. We talked about the book and I'm glad I read it.
Enjoy and thanks for bring this to the people. Rock on a Wayne and Penny.
John from Boston