Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann
A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine

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Synopsis

Winner of the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting
Winner of the Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Youth Sports
 
Eight years of unfettered access and a keen sense of a story’s deepest truths allow Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist George Dohrmann to take readers inside the machine that produces America’s basketball stars. Play Their Hearts Out reveals a cutthroat world where boys as young as eight or nine are subjected to a dizzying torrent of scrutiny and exploitation. At the book’s heart are the personal stories of two compelling figures: Joe Keller, an ambitious coach with a master plan to find and promote “the next LeBron,” and Demetrius Walker, a fatherless latchkey kid who falls under Keller’s sway and struggles to live up to unrealistic expectations. Complete with a new “where-are-they-now” Epilogue by the author, this thoroughly compelling narrative exposes the gritty reality that lies beneath so many dreams of fame and glory.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES • THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR •  KIRKUS REVIEWS
 
Look for the exclusive conversation between George Dohrmann and bestselling author Seth Davis in the back of the book.
 

About George Dohrmann

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George Dohrmann is a senior writer and investigative reporter at Sports Illustrated. He is the author of Play Their Hearts Out, winner of the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting and the Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Youth Sports. In 2000, while working at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories that uncovered a college basketball team’s academic fraud. Dohrmann lives in San Francisco with his family.
 
Published October 5, 2010 by Ballantine Books. 434 pages
Genres: Sports & Outdoors, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Play Their Hearts Out

Kirkus Reviews

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On the surface, it’s an easy story—unscrupulous white men making money off the sweat of undereducated urban youth—but in the author’s skilled hands, a potentially trite morality play becomes a powerful, nuanced chronicle populated with struggling parents, coaches both villainous and virtuous, and...

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The New York Times

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“The Frank A. Gonzales Community Center sits on the corner of Colton Avenue and E Street in a mostly Latino neighborhood in Colton.”

Dec 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Play Their Hearts Out: A Coac...

The New York Times

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While the article about Walker carried the requisite caveats — about whether he would fulfill his potential and whether it was even fair to be placing such expectations on a kid — it described him as “14 going on LeBron.” The reason was not just Walker’s physical gifts, but also his Amateur Athle...

Dec 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Play Their Hearts Out: A Coac...

The Wall Street Journal

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(He has since transferred to the University of New Mexico, a notch down in the basketball firmament.) Even though Mr. Dohrmann is clearly appalled by much that goes on in grass-roots basketball, he concedes that Mr. Keller does have an eye for young athletic talent: In the book's epilogue, we...

Oct 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Play Their Hearts Out: A Coac...

Kirkus Reviews

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“I would never have guessed that [shoe companies’] viral marketing goals would involve kids in middle school, that executives at Adidas would be discussing…ways [Demetrius] could help them move product,” says Dohrmann, adding that “current reform efforts are a joke because they don’t curb the inf...

Dec 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Play Their Hearts Out: A Coac...

Dallas News

A person could kick over rocks at the dankest ponds in the world and not find creatures as unappealing as some George Dohrmann describes in his youth basketball exposé, Play Their Hearts Out.

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Bookmarks Magazine

--Dave Callanan Photographs from Play Their Hearts Out

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