| This inspirational documentary chronicling the early roots of NBA superstar LeBron James in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, shows the importance of placing the team over the individual.
This is a must-see for basketball fans and all high school students involved in athletic programs.
Director and co-screenwriter Kristopher Belman takes the viewer back in time combining one-on-one interviews with the father-who-turned-coach and the players making up the “Fab 5” at Saint Vincent-St. Mary High School, extensive rare footage of actual games dating back to a 14-and-under AAU team, never-before-seen home videos and personal family photographs.
The movie takes you into the locker room for team prayers and the stirring pre-game and halftime pep talks. You get to know James and each one of his closest friends on the team as the movie devotes time to off-the-court family backgrounds.
James, who is an executive producer, talks about being raised by his mother, Gloria, in the projects. He recalls a scary upbringing surrounded by violence, drug abuse and police sirens. He never knew his biological father and found security on the basketball court.
He takes you into his old bedroom and recalls the posters of Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant that adorned the walls. There is a priceless photo of him holding a basketball at age 2.
Early video of his rare talent dates back to 1997. The amazing game action highlights are punctuated by revered basketball guru Dick Vitale’s comment “Are you serious?”
James gained national recognition when he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in his junior year with a headline that read “The Chosen One.” ESPN and the Internet brought him instant celebrity status. This placed a bull’s-eye on his team as it played a national schedule competing with powerhouse programs in Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California.
This group of Akron neighborhood kids may go down as the greatest team in high school basketball history. They were forced to play one game without James when he was temporarily ruled ineligible after accepting two jerseys from a sporting goods store.
A lot of the focus is on Coach Dru Joyce II, who helped these youngsters (including his own son) become men. He stressed team chemistry, character building and faith in God.
This coming-of-age realization of a dream almost seems too good to be true. No make-believe Hollywood script could match this once-in-a-lifetime, all-American story.
Now showing exclusively for a limited engagement at the Tivoli in Westport, KC.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"