Creatively, I’ve been lucky. In addition to my near misses, crushing disappointments and abject failures — of which there have been many — I’ve been fortunate enough to see two screenplays I wrote turn into movies, my children’s book published by Random House and a TV pilot purchased and subsequently killed by ABC. I’ve had the opportunity to work with my favorite athletes for ESPN, launch Michael Jordan’s cologne and walk the red carpet at the Kodak Theater for my own premiere. But of all the creative projects I’ve completed, none are as important or as satisfying as the one I’m about to begin.
Just over a year ago, I came to the conclusion that despite the proliferation of the Internet, the accessibility of air travel and the global nature of business, we still live in a world with a million lines that divide us as people. Some of these lines are physical — lines formed by the borders of neighborhoods, towns and countries. Others, like the lines caused by race, money and politics are less immediately apparent, but no less real.
Well, what if for one day, there was a line that brought all of us together? A line that united parents, children, students, educators and everyone who encountered it. On March 25 at Compton High School, I intend to create that line. Because on that day, in front of a packed gymnasium, eight exceptional students will shoot free throws with the one who sinks the most in a row getting a $40,000 college scholarship and each of the seven runner’s up each receiving a $1,000 scholarship.
The event/documentary is called “Free Throw,” and it will begin on March 7, when we gather the eighty or so Compton High School seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or better to draw our eight contestants. Over the following two weeks, we’ll film the lives of these students to learn about their hopes, dreams and hardships. This footage will be coupled with the coverage of the ultimate competition and turned into a feature documentary that we’ll edit in time to submit to Sundance next fall.
Through this project, I hope to provide an opportunity to a deserving child while highlighting the great work people like Mayor Perrodin, Principal Jesse Jones and the members of the school board are doing to move beyond the Straight Outta Compton image created by Easy E and NWA 20 years ago.
Unfortunately, while I have personally raised the $47,000 in scholarship money and $25,000 of production dollars through friends and family, we could definitely use more funding to complete the film and more money to put in the scholarship funds for the boys and girls of Compton.
This is where you can help. We need both financial support and social momentum. So, please do whatever you can to help the cause, whether it’s simply “liking” the Free Throw page on Facebook to posting or tweeting about it.
For those of you who have friends with a couple bucks that they’d like to donate to a charity where every single dollar benefits the intended recipients instead of half going to staff and marketing costs, just have them click on our Kickstarter link and use the PayPal account we’ve set up.
I’d like to use this final line to say thanks for any help you can offer.