Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing some of the most compelling stories in sports. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning, Producer’s Guild Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators.
Coming up on ESPN:
The 2008 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament, held in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, nearly became a colossal tragedy when a tornado struck the heart of the city with winds estimated of at least 135 MPH just as people were supposed to be leaving the arena at the conclusion of the Alabama - Mississippi State matchup late that Friday night. Had Bama's Mykal Riley not sunk a 3-point shot at the buzzer - sending this particular game into overtime - thousands of fans would have literally walked right into hell as a rare urban tornado slammed the Georgia Dome.
When Len Bias dropped dead two days after the 1986 NBA Draft, he forever altered our perception of drug use. From potential NBA star to cautionary tale.Future generations continue to face the harsh punishment of drug policies that were influenced by the public outcry after his heartbreaking death. Instead of becoming an NBA star, he became a one-man deterrent, the athlete who reminded everyone just how dangerous drug use can be.
Do you remember where you were on June 17, 1994? Thanks to a wide array of unrelated, coast-to-coast occurrences, this Friday has come to be known for its firsts, lasts, triumphs and tragedy. Arnold Palmer played his last round at a U.S. Open, in Oakmont, the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Chicago, the Rangers celebrated on Broadway, Patrick Ewing desperately pursued a long evasive championship in the Garden and Donald Fehr stared down the baseball owners. And yet, all of that was a prelude to O.J. Simpson leading America on a slow speed chase in a white Ford Bronco around Los Angeles. Oscar-nominated and Peabody Award-winning director Brett Morgen will artistically weave these moments and others to create a unique and reflective look at a day that no sports fan could forget
Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac were two friends who grew up together sharing the common bond of basketball. Together, they lifted the Yugoslavian National team to unimaginable heights. After conquering Europe, they both went to America where they became the first two foreign players to attain NBA stardom. But with the fall of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991, Yugoslavia split up. A war broke out between Petrovic's Croatia and Divac's Serbia. Long buried ethnic tensions surfaced. And these two men, once brothers, were now on opposite sides of a deadly civil war. As Petrovic and Divac continued to face each other on the basketball courts of the NBA, no words passed between the two. Then, on the fateful night of June 7, 1993, Drazen Petrovic was killed in an auto accident. "Once Brothers" will tell the gripping tale of these two men, how circumstances beyond their control tore apart their friendship, and whether Divac has ever come to terms with the death of a friend before they had a chance to reconcile.
On December 10, 2010, Sotheby's auctioned off what could be considered the most important historical document in sports history -- James Naismith's original rules of basketball. "There's No Place Like Home" is the story of one man's fanatical quest to win this seminal American artifact at auction and bring the rules "home" to Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached and taught for over 40 years.
Mike Tyson and Tupac Shakur were good friends. In 1996, they were to celebrate after Tyson's title win, but Shakur never made it. Shakur was brutally gunned down later that night, and the scene in Las Vegas quickly turned from would-be celebratory revelry to ill fated and inopportune tragedy. Director Reggie Bythewood, with the full cooperation of Mike Tyson, will tell not only the story of that infamous night but of the remarkable friendship between Tyson and Tupac.
A phenom from Rochester, NY, Abby Wambach defied convention by spurning soccer dynasty North Carolina in favor of the University of Florida, an upstart program which, at the time, was only in its fourth year of existence. That decision paid off quickly, as in her 1998 freshman season Wambach helped the Gators nab the SEC’s first and only national championship in soccer – defeating the powerhouse Tar Heels in the final.
People know Venus Williams the tennis superstar, what most people don't know about Williams is how she changed the course of her sport. In a stunning case that captured the European public beginning in 2005, Williams challenged the long-held practice of paying women tennis players less money than their male counterparts at the French Open and Wimbledon. With a deep sense of obligation to the legacy of Billie Jean King, Williams lobbied British Parliament, UNESCO and Fleet Street for financial parity. Indeed, it was her poignant op-ed piece in The London Times that convinced many people that the tournament organizers at Wimbledon were "on the wrong side of history."
On April 18, 2012, Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of the NCAA basketball, announced her resignation from the University of Tennessee. While the sports world reeled from the news of Pat's early-onset dementia, the coach and her son quietly set out to beat this challenge just as they had every other; with grace, humour and most of all, each other. "Pat XO" tells the remarkable story of Pat Summitt as it has never been told before. This raw, authentic portrait takes the camera from the filmmaker's hands and places it with those who know her best. With Tyler as the lead storyteller, we hear never-before-told recollections from assistant coaches; players like Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Michelle Marciniak; and such admirers as Peyton Manning and Kenny Chesney. The archival footage and statistical records woven into the film provide their own insights into a woman who cared about winning, but also about elevating her players and her university. If it's possible to do justice to Pat Summitt, "Pat XO" does it.
As a teenager, Audrey Mestre suffered from scoliosis, but in those formative years, she discovered a passion for the ocean. It offered her a sense of freedom, and the burdens she faced on dry land soon dissipated as she slipped below the surface. In the final stages of her Ph.D., Mestre was drawn to Cabo San Lucas, where she became infatuated with free diver Pipin Ferreras, a Cuban defector whose dives had put him at the forefront of the sport. The two became a couple, and Mestre followed the often elusive, often raucous Ferreras on his almost spiritual quest to push his limits underwater. Soon enough, Mestre moved from support team member to ardent free diver and then to a world-class competitor who outshone her husband.
Lisa Olson was just trying to do her job as a reporter for the Boston Herald in 1990 when a group of New England Patriot players sexually harassed her in their locker room by exposing their genitals and making lewd and vulgar comments. Even though a subsequent NFL investigation concluded that Olson had been "degraded and humiliated," the 25-year-old continued to be tormented by Patriot fans - so much so that she temporarily moved to Australia to resume her career. The incident touched off a national debate about the presence of female journalists in the male sanctum of the clubhouse. That debate should have been settled 12 years earlier, when Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated successfully challenged Major League Baseball after she was kept out of the New York Yankees' locker room.
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