We’ve all heard of the Wayne Gretzky quote: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Yet, what happens when a kid from Coney Island takes his shot over 7,000 miles away? Just ask three-time CBA champ Stephon Marbury – after all, it “changed [his] life”.
We’ve all heard of the Wayne Gretzky quote: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Yet, what happens when a kid from Coney Island takes his shot over 7,000 miles away? Just ask three-time CBA champ Stephon Marbury – after all, it “changed [his] life”.
On a Thursday night at The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, hundreds of fans and supporters alike gathered in the lobby for a special screening of Marbury’s documentary, ‘A Kid From Coney Island’. Within moments, all eyes went towards the front door as the all-star NBA and CBA athlete entered the building.
The former kid from Coney Island, now a resident of Beijing, China, arrived in a plaid button-down, jeans, and sneakers paired with a huge warm smile before greeting the enthusiastic crowd. Only the uber-popular athlete didn’t arrive with an enormous entourage, he instead came with his family and close friends and a simple message. “I want people to just know something that happened here in America, New York, Brooklyn, Coney Island…the story of a kid from Coney Island who went from one space to another space through trials and tribulations, and life in basketball,” Marbury said.
Looking towards the Abraham Lincoln Railsplitters, a Brooklyn based high school basketball team standing amongst the crowd hoping to catch a glimpse at of the all-star player, Marbury continued, “It’s empowering for kids to be able to witness something completely different from what they’re normally used to seeing and hearing – I think this [screening] is a great opportunity for them to witness that.”
Marbury seemed to have a personal connection to the budding athletes, as the very center of his story is based on navigation through his vacillating sports career as a young basketball player. Drafted into the NBA at the tender age of 19, Marbury soon joined the Minnesota Timberwolves and eventually played for the New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and Boston Celtics throughout the duration of his U.S career.
Opportunities constantly arose for Marbury, but not without their fair set of challenges. Facing backlash from his own hometown, an emotional loss within his family, and pressure to stay on top, Marbury’s life headed in the unexpected direction of China – an event that would ultimately re-shape his world.
“The love they share [in China] is different”, Marbury said with a knowing smile before continuing; “being able to have the opportunity to play basketball and show love at the same time, that’s what it really boils down to. I feel honored and deeply humbled by people looking at me in this life [and] I think more people are becoming aware of how big basketball is in China and me having the opportunity to be one of the people who do it is pretty cool.”
Also finding Marbury’s unique story to be “pretty cool” was executive producer Kevin Durant and Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi, the producing partners behind their company Significant Productions. With an NAACP award and a line of incredible films under their belt including, ‘Sorry To Bother You’, ‘Roxanne Roxanne’, ‘Dope’ and most recently, ‘Godfather of Harlem’, Marbury’s story is bound to be in great hands under the dynamic duo.
Already familiar with Bongiovi’s work and finding themselves relating to Marbury’s story on a personal level, Creative Control creators Chike Ozah and Coodie Simmons knew they had to direct the film. “After talking to everybody, there were so many synergies [involving] our belief and strong faith that we have in God,” Ozah said. “Steph’ and Coodie and I all lost our fathers so there were just a lot of similarities, Ozah said before continuing on to say, “it made it more personal out the gate.”
With a warm smile, Simmons compared the chance to direct Marbury’s film to “a gift from God.” “[Marbury’s] is so spiritual and so uplifting and inspirational, that we’re happy that we did this project,” Simmons said.
With Ozah’s background in motion graphics and art and Simmon’s background in comedy and storytelling, Marbur’s story is sure to captivate even those not familiar with the living legends story. “When you have a strong story, when the root of it is pure and soul and intent of it is pure, people want to be involved,” Ozah said before adding, “If you put your soul into something it’s gonna reach the people it needs to reach.”