ON THESE COURTS                                    WAYNE B. DRASH
Posted:  Jan. 9, 2014

On These Courts by Wayne B Drash  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.

This story about Penney Hardaway, is more than just a basketball book. This is first a story of one friend who is needing help of another friend. You see Penney always gives money for basketball programs and uniforms but this year his friend who has colon cancer needs someone to coach the high school basketball team in one of the roughest inner cities, Memphis TN. Penney says he will do it himself, for this is where he grew up on and in the streets, courts of Memphis. Without a mother or father but a grandmother who made sure that he went to school every day and was inside every night. Who when he got older she went to the courts and dragged him home to the point where even the local gang would tell him to leave if they knew something was about to happen. Because they knew someone was going to make it out of the hood, not by prison or by dying. When he made it to college she made him promise to get his degree she did not care about money or home. She said get your degree it is something that no one take away from you. Because of her and him finishing his degree he was able to coach that year. Then the hard part started trying to get through to a bunch of young kids who had no fathers or mothers or anyone who would stand up for them and make them accountable. He made them not just go to classes but get the grades to play, to act different not to bully other students and if they did not sign a contract with certain set of rules they could not be part of the team. A parent needed to sign also. For the ones that were having problems in school he helped with tutors. His biggest problem was fighting the thing he was around when he was younger. The gangs they had a bigger control on the area and he had to come up with ways to overcome those. This is a book about a man that I only knew a little about, basketball. He does so much more for the game and for Memphis that I wish his story was told more often. For Memphis is a great city and I am not even from there. This is a book that everyone can relate to you don’t have to be a basketball fan. Just a fan of overcoming. I got this book from net galley.

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