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On These Courts: A Miracle Season that Changed a City, a Once-Future Star, and a Team Forever Hardcover – May 7, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Drash, a staff writer and senior producer at CNN.com, lays the hype on triple-thick in this account of Lester Middle School’s march to the Tennessee state basketball championship last year, improbably led by favorite son and former NBA star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Drash relates Hardaway’s coming-of-age on the inner-city streets of Memphis, his incandescent but too-brief NBA career, and his decision to help coach the team led by childhood friend Desmond Merriweather, who was struggling with colon cancer. Drash covers the kids, too, and the almost overwhelming obstacles they faced and even sometimes overcame. It’s certainly a made-for-Hollywood story—don’t be surprised if that’s where it winds up—but readers can only be inspired by Hardaway’s devotion to his players and their athletic and academic success. --Alan Moores

Review

“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.” (Library Journal Online Reviews)

“A made-for-Hollywood story." (Booklist)

"Fantastic." (NBA.com)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147671021X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476710211
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Beth Clements on May 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a Memphis native I grew up watching Penny play ball for the Tigers. In a town that bleeds Tiger Blue it so nice to see someone so successful giving back to an area that really needs it. I had the privilege of working with some of the elementary school kids in Binghampton in college and I makes me so happy to see the good things going on in a neighborhood you usually only hear the bad from!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By oldsouthboy on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A heart warming story about former NBA player Penny Hardaway giving back to the community he grew up in. Drash's style flows and it was hard to put the book down. A must read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Denise DuBois Taylor on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
On These Courts is an inspiring, compelling story of a young man who made it big and gave back big - and it's all true. It's a great story well told.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'm not even a sports fan.I couldn't put this book down! The writing style makes you feel as though you are in a movie, in the hood with the boys! Mr. Drash is a master with the vernacular! This is a must read forparents,educators,and anyone who cares about kids and their success. The love and dedication by Penny and Dez portrayed so richly by wane Drash. Lessons about the power of love and the difference we all can make. Carol gracco mcclure
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on May 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book serves two purposes: it demonstrates the quality of Penny Hardaway and what life is like for the less advantaged growing up in bad areas. This book goes in to some detail of the lives of these kids and their families. If more fortunate people would read this and see what it's really like growing up in a poor environment they would see the work needed to HELP people strive to improve themselves. Penny saw this and asked for no publicity but dove in to help his former neighborhood and great friend who is suffering through cancer. I know Penny and know he was struggling for what his role would be after the NBA. It looks like he has found his calling. This is a true passion to him and the book reflects this.

There are other good sidelights in this book like how the author first met Penny when 15 years old at a summer camp at KY. Only difference was Penny was being asked to play with the college and pro players in the night games no one could watch.

But the focus of the book is on Coach Des and the kids and what they struggle through to get to the championship game. If you are interested in uplifting stories of what it is like living in our poor neighborhoods I would also recommend the book by Michael Oher who actually plays a very small role in this book. These kids no no other life. They have poor role models and live in an environment where success so many times involves breaking the law. But this book shows how the community comes together to back this team and the pride the neighborhood including the drug dealers have. What Penny is doing is spectacularly making a difference in so many kids lives. And it's not a temporary venture. He is now sponsoring many AAU teams. Penny is doing this the right way forcing these kids to value their education.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BUMBLEBEE788 on May 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was familiar with the story and was anxious to read. I started it one afternoon and only put it down long enough to eat a meal. It is a great read of what a difference a man can make in the life of boys when the fathers are absent.

You don't even have to be a big basketball fan to enjoy the story.

I was living in Memphis when Martin Luther King was killed . . . I had a real appreciation of the Memphis envoirment .

You will be glad you read the book.
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Format: Hardcover
On These Courts by Wayne Drash recounts former NBA star Penny Hardaway's efforts at coaching and mentoring the Lester Lions, a team of middle schoolers from a rough Memphis neighborhood to the state championship. Hardaway's involvement grew out of his friendship with the team's old coach, who was struggling with colon cancer and then the chemotherapy that followed. The book is an uplifting and inspirational chronicle of Hardaway's attempts to pursue a championship that eluded him during his professional career and more importantly protect his players from the temptations surrounding them. On These Courts tells a heart-warming story about a commendable individual and makes for a decent read. While it always kept my interest, the book is held back due to its somewhat generic approach to the "inspirational story about a ragtag inner-city team vying for a state title" genre that is a common topic in sports books and movies. It is still a worthy read, especially for basketball fans and high school and youth coaches.

Drash, a Memphis native, currently writes for CNN.com and actually played with Hardaway in a high school basketball camp. The book grew out of 2012 article he penned for the site about Hardaway's efforts at Lester. Sometimes books that evolve from articles can feel bloated or fluffed as writers awkwardly attempt to pass the length threshold from magazine feature to book but in this case the elongated format allows Drash to further explore the socioeconomics of Memphis and profile the disparate and often colorful characters inhabiting the team's rough Binghampton neighborhood.
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