Play Their Hearts Out
A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine
By George Dohrmann
(Ballantine Books, Paperback, 9780345508614, 448pp.)
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
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Winner of the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting
Winner of the Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Youth Sports
Eight years of unfettered access and a keen sense of a story’s deepest truths allow Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist George Dohrmann to take readers inside the machine that produces America’s basketball stars. Play Their Hearts Out reveals a cutthroat world where boys as young as eight or nine are subjected to a dizzying torrent of scrutiny and exploitation. At the book’s heart are the personal stories of two compelling figures: Joe Keller, an ambitious coach with a master plan to find and promote “the next LeBron,” and Demetrius Walker, a fatherless latchkey kid who falls under Keller’s sway and struggles to live up to unrealistic expectations. Complete with a new “where-are-they-now” Epilogue by the author, this thoroughly compelling narrative exposes the gritty reality that lies beneath so many dreams of fame and glory.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES • THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR • KIRKUS REVIEWS
Look for the exclusive conversation between George Dohrmann and bestselling author Seth Davis in the back of the book.
George Dohrmann is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and the magazine’s investigative reporter. In 2000, while working at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories that uncovered a college basketball team’s academic fraud. Dohrmann lives in San Francisco with his family. This is his first book.
At age 9, Demetrius Walker was dunking basketballs into a 10-foot hoop. As an eighth grader, he made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Sportswriter George Dohrmann examines the cutthroat, big-money world of youth basketball in his new book, Play Their Hearts Out. More at NPR.org
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“Often heartbreaking, always riveting.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Tremendous.”—The Plain Dealer
“Indispensable.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A tour de force of reporting, filled with deft storytelling and vivid character studies.”—The Washington Post
“One of the finest sports books of all time.”—Harper’s Magazine
“Amazing stuff . . . The Friday Night Lights of youth basketball.”—Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam
“A landmark achievement in basketball journalism.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)