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After retirement Penny returned to Memphis and struggled with the question most professional athletes face when their bright-lights careers come to an end: What now? The unexpected answer came from Desmond Merriweather, one of Penny's oldest friends. Desmond had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and needed someone to replace him as head coach of the Lester Middle School basketball team in the same dangerous neighborhood where Penny grew up. Without hesitating, Penny said, "I'm all in."
"On These Courts "is the moving story of Coach Penny helping his young players navigate their way through impossible circumstances: failing grades, incarcerated fathers, gang pressures, and the crime-ridden streets of Memphis. But Penny never shied away. He selflessly provided on-the-court coaching, helped kids with homework, and became a positive role model who is committed to staying involved in their lives. But this is not just a story about Penny; the true stars are the kids on the Lester Lions team--Robert Washington, Reggie Green, Kobe Freeman, and Desmond's own son Nick Merriweather-- who rewarded Penny with his first championship season, winning the state title by one point. A penny.
A story of hope and inspiration, struggle, and triumph, "On These Courts "reveals the importance and power of taking a stand in a community and learning what it truly means to give back.
A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Penny's FastBreak Courts, part of Penny Hardaway's ongoing efforts to help at-risk youth in the Memphis community.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-04-08
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (May)