Former NBA player and one of the flashiest guards from the ’90s, Penny Hardaway, made a guest appearance on the BasketballNews podcast. He touched upon his life, playing career, and how it all now impacts his coaching and personal life. Many younger fans don’t know that Penny was close to not having the legendary career we all remember, especially when he played for the Orlando Magic.
When Penny was still a teenager, he got into an accident with a few other people and the rival gangs that resulted in him getting shot in the foot. He remembers things weren’t so easy growing up in Memphis, and altercations and problems find you one way or the other.
It was a big thing going on back in the day when guys would travel from their neighborhood to the rival’s neighborhood and go try and rob or shoot or whatever. It was a big war going on, and we got caught up in the middle of that war.Penny Hardaway, via BasketballNews
The crazy thing about his story is that things could’ve been a lot worse for him because the people that shot him didn’t even come close. There were shots fired when they were driving away with their car, and that situation changed Penny’s perspective in entirety because he understood he needs to get away from people that were a bad influence.
They started shooting to where we were before. They could shot us point-blank, but they drove off, and when they drove off, maybe they thought we should have shot them, and they didn’t. One of the bullets ricocheted off the ground and hit me in the foot. I didn’t learn my lesson until I actually got shot, and this could have taken my life.Penny Hardaway, via BasketballNews
When Penny was getting treatment on his foot at the hospital, they warned him there was a high possibility he would never play basketball again. That is when he realized he needs to change his mindset, appreciate what he has, and work on his craft to be the best player he can become.
They told me I wasn’t able to play basketball again, because my foot was damaged that bad and then it really hit me on my mind that what am I going to do now, the basketball is all I have.Penny Hardaway, via BasketballNews
Fortunately, Penny recovered and got drafted by the Magic, where he and Shaq established a dynamic duo that had a few good years together. After having several injuries, Penny became one of those players that prime years were cut short, and we never actually saw him realize his full potential. Nevertheless, that experience had such an impact on him because it showed him a change is necessary, and that is also something he preached to the players he coached so far.
Showcasing himself as an example, Penny wants to instill the right values in the players he coaches, especially now as a head coach at the University of Memphis. Learning from someone who has that type of experience as a college player and as a successful NBA player will hopefully inspire kids to be the best they can be and stay out of trouble.