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.
Wayne Drash is a staff writer and senior producer for CNN.com. He was named one of the best online writers in America by the National Headliner Awards in 2012. Drash is also a member of CNN’s award-winning teams that have brought home Peabodys, Webbys, and Emmys for breaking news and feature writing over the years.
“Penny is a superstar on the court and an even bigger superstar for giving back and helping the youth of Memphis."
– Earvin “Magic” Johnson
“I've known Penny Hardaway since he was 16, and even at that age you could see there was something different about this skinny, lanky kid with game out if this world. You could sense there was more to him than what he was currently being called for..... 'On these courts' gives insight to the man through the spirit of his Grandmother, friends, his hometown Memphis, and the kids (just like us) he didn't forget about!”
– Chirs Webber
"The story of former NBA star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway’s return to the mean streets of his youth to lead a team of disadvantaged middle schoolers to basketball glory.…genuinely touching moments, and it’s always uplifting to see a wealthy superstar give more than just money to help his community."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A feel-good story that begs for a where-are-they-now follow-up in 10 years."
– Kirkus Reviews
“Recommended not just to NBA fans but to fans of uplifting sports stories and those who cling to the belief that social change really can be effected, even if only a little at a time.”