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Ex-NBA star returns to inner city, brings hoop dreams
Penny Hardaway, left, stepped in to help his friend Desmond Merriweather, whose son, Nick, rose up in the state title game.
March 16th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Ex-NBA star returns to inner city, brings hoop dreams

By Wayne Drash, CNN

Memphis, Tennessee (CNN) - With just over three minutes left in the state championship, Coach Penny Hardaway called a timeout.

He didn't like what he was seeing. Down by 15 points, his middle schoolers were quitting. It stood against everything he had instilled in them:

Don't use the inner city as an excuse to fail.
You can overcome your circumstances.
Always dream big.

The former NBA All-Star and greatest basketball player in Memphis history huddled his team of 12 together. He looked them in the eyes. He could see his reflection from 25 years ago: young teens from the city's roughest projects longing for positive mentors.

"Just give me all you got," he told them.

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