Where did the baby name Anfernee come from in 1992?

Basketball player Anfernee Hardaway
Anfernee Hardaway

The curious name Anfernee debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1992 and reached peak usage in 1996:

  • 1998: 102 baby boys named Anfernee
  • 1997: 171 baby boys named Anfernee [rank: 838th]
  • 1996: 300 baby boys named Anfernee [rank: 597th]
  • 1995: 246 baby boys named Anfernee [rank: 669th]
  • 1994: 84 baby boys named Anfernee
  • 1993: 42 baby boys named Anfernee
  • 1992: 21 baby boys named Anfernee [debut]
  • 1991: unlisted

This corresponds to the rise of Tennessee-born basketball player Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

He played for two seasons at Memphis State before being selected third overall in the 1993 NBA draft.

As a professional, Anfernee spent his first six seasons with the Orlando Magic. During that time, he was voted an NBA All-Star four times in a row, from 1995 to 1998.

So how did he come to be called “Anfernee”? Here’s how his mother, Fae, explained it:

When I was in school at Lester High, there had been a boy named Anfernee. I always thought it was such a beautiful name. People think I don’t know how to spell Anthony. His nickname, Penny? That came from Mama. She called him Pretty, but in the country, that comes out ‘Pweddy.’ People just took it from there.

(Anfernee was raised largely by Fae’s mother, Louise, a former sharecropper.)

Among Anfernee Hardaway’s namesakes are baseball player Anfernee Grier (born in 1995), basketball player Anfernee Simons (b. 1999), and football players Anfernee Jennings (b. 1996) and Anfernee Orji (b. 2000).

What are your thoughts on the name Anfernee?


Image: Anfernee Hardaway trading card

2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Anfernee come from in 1992?

  1. The first time I saw that guy’s name, I died laughing. It’s preposterous. They even made a joke about it in the first Mean Girls movie. (Haven’t seen the new one yet.) But clearly, it has caught on, and now it really is a name with at least a few decades of staying power. That is fascinating to me as an avid amateur onomast. I am not much of a sports person (although I like baseball), but I often look up sports rosters to see what’s going on with names. I highly recommend looking at the college and high school rodeo team rosters for some levity. Not just Black Americans give their kids bonkers names, that’s for sure.

  2. Rodeo team rosters! What a fascinating idea! I literally just put that on my to-do list for the week — find/scan some of those rosters. I can’t wait.

    And thank you for mentioning Mean Girls — I remember that part, and I ought to add it to the movie quote post. Another to-do for the week…

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