One cliche in media often insinuates that the good deeds of professional athletes go unreported in favor of more salacious fare: the arrests, the stunts, the “baby mama drama” and the reality showstoppers. But some athletes just don’t prefer the camera when they’re not working. Because of that, their contributions go unnoticed.

Enter Wayne Drash’s book, “On These Courts: A Miracle Season That Changed a City, a Once-Future Star, and a Team Forever,” about Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and the Lester Middle School basketball team.

Long past his basketball heyday (when he teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal for the Orlando Magic and captured the attention of the NBA in the mid-1990s) and long past his Lil’ Penny Nike commercials (despite his shoes still being an in-demand product to this day), Hardaway has kept to himself. But with his friend, Lester Middle School basketball coach Desmond Merriweather, battling cancer, Hardaway took it upon himself to coach the team not only to lessen the workload for Merriweather, but to teach life lessons to the kids as well.

Many studies have shown that middle school tends to be the time when young men steer off the educational path for good. With Lester Middle School located in Binghampton (one of the roughest neighborhoods in Hardaway’s hometown of Memphis, Tenn.), Hardaway knew how extraordinary his grandmother was for raising him in this environment. He wanted to provide her lessons of strict discipline, self-respect and a willingness to work for your reward for the boys of Lester’s basketball team.

But Drash’s book demonstrates that it wasn’t an easy task.

“On These Courts” does a fantastic job of melding the history of Memphis with Hardaway’s life, the history of basketball in Memphis, the lives of the kids and the lives of the ones who found themselves victims of drugs, in gangs or serving time in prison. Race plays a significant factor in the book, and Drash breaks down how the threat of negative perceptions from those outside of the local Black community factor into how Hardaway and company approach teaching lessons and living life.

The former NBA player constantly finds himself going over to a certain player’s house to get him back to practice when he quits because of the discipline. Many of the boys on the team do not have fathers or have fathers who are incarcerated. In his book, Drash shows how Penny served as coach, father and mentor to the kids.

“On These Courts” is the perfect retort to anyone who claims that professional athletes don’t give back to the community. It also proves that life doesn’t always have to be what’s already given to you. You can have more–if you choose to work for it.