Play Their Hearts Out

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Play Their Hearts Out
First edition cover
Author George Dohrmann
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction, sports
Publisher Ballantine Books
Publication date
October 5, 2010
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 422
ISBN 978-0-345-50860-7
OCLC 500797258

Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine, by Pulitzer Prize winning author George Dohrmann, is an award-winning exposé of the underbelly of grassroots youth basketball in the AAU.[1] The author follows the lives of the coach and players of an elite team, documenting the exploitation and manipulation of the children and their families by coaches seeking the best players, and the influence of shoe and sports gear companies seeking to use the sport to promote their products.[2] Dohrmann is a senior writer with Sports Illustrated.[3]


This is Dohrmann's first book, published by Ballantine Books October 5, 2010. The book was the result of more than eight years of investigative work.[3] The book "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."[2]

Synopsis – As their fortunes take shape and the pressure mounts—Demetrius finds himself profiled in Sports Illustrated at age fourteen, while Keller cultivates his business empire—Dohrmann weaves in the stories of numerous other parents, coaches, and players. Some of them see their prospects evaporate as a result of poor decisions and worse luck. Others learn how to thrive in a corrupt system by playing the right angles.[4]



Ryan Hockensmith of ESPN the Magazine said, "It's one of the best sports books I've ever read."[1] Melanie Collins of the Big Ten Network said, "The writing was so strong and the detail and insight made the book something I could not put down... At times, I was so enraged I was physically angry."[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Award for Excellence in Coverage of Youth Sports". Penn State College of Communications.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dohrmann, George (2010). Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine (unabridged ed.). Random House LLC. ISBN 978-0345523167.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "George Dohrmann - About George". Retrieved 4 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Play Their Hearts Out – Synopsis
  5. "2011 ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing". PEN American Center. Retrieved 7 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links