On These Courts

On These Courts

A Miracle Season That Changed a City, a Once-Future Star, and a Team Forever

By Wayne B. Drash

Touchstone Books, Hardcover, 9781476710211, 275pp.

Publication Date: May 7, 2013


Former NBA star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway grew up in Binghampton, one
of the roughest sections of Memphis. Due in no small part to the
self-discipline and strong values his grandmother instilled in him, plus his singular
talent, Penny beat the incredible odds and made it to the NBA. He was such a
special player that it seemed inevitable that he would win at least one
championship and end up in the Hall of Fame. But dogged by injuries, Penny was
never able to live up to his full basketball star potential.

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

About the Author
Wayne Drash is a staff writer and senior producer for CNN.com. He was named the second-best online writer in America by the National Headliner Awards in 2012. His awards also include a Peabody, a Webby, and an Emmy for breaking news and feature writing. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.