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Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway has found a place for kids to call home court, thanks to generous support from Methodist University Hospital. Hardaway’s youth sports training program, Penny’s FastBreak Courts (an operating entity of Gameday Healthy Kids Foundation), blends the team skills of basketball with life skills that help kids make better choices. But the program was in need of a reliable location.
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare CEO Gary Shorb explains, “I was contacted by a member of our marketing team who heard that Penny was having to move from gym to gym for sessions with kids in his FastBreak Courts program, and suggested we allow him to use the Methodist University Hospital gym. I agreed immediately. Considering Methodist’s commitment to serve the entire Memphis community, it was an easy decision.”
A ceremony announcing the partnership was held Tuesday, April 24 at 3:30 p.m., bringing together Hardaway, Shorb, hospital staff involved with the project, and some of the children Hardaway has coached and mentored. The rarely-used intramural gym on the hospital campus was originally used to serve nursing students whose dorms were in the same building. Now the space will host skills training led by native Memphian Penny Hardaway, former University of Memphis and NBA basketball star.
“Thank you, Methodist, for offering us a place to train,” Hardaway said. “This gym meets an important need, and I can now spend more time working with kids, and less time worrying about places to play and driving all over town.”
Looking toward the future, Hardaway still plans to break ground on Penny’s FastBreak Courts Sportsplex in suburban Memphis later this year. This $20 million multi-sport facility will house seven basketball courts, including a 2,000-seat arena, as well as a rehabilitation clinic and classrooms to tutor kids. In addition to basketball, FastBreak Courts will welcome volleyball, wrestling, cheer, and other indoor sports.
Once the suburban FastBreak Courts facility opens, kids living closer to the Methodist University Hospital gym will have no reason to worry that their “home court” will close. Hardaway plans to continue his basketball skills program in both locations for the convenience of as many kids as possible.
Since retiring from the NBA four years ago, Hardaway has taken a serious role in supporting youth athletic programs in his hometown. In addition to his involvement with Penny’s FastBreak Courts, he has revitalized the Bluff City Classic, a summer basketball league that provides a high level of competition for college, professional, and elite high school players. This year Hardaway also coached the basketball team at Lester Middle School, his alma mater, to the West Tennessee Championship, earning him a feature story on CNN.com.