A new documentary depicts the extraordinary rise of Brooklyn-born basketball legend Stephon Marbury, tracing his career back to his roots as an up-and-coming athletic phenom at southern Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School.
“A Kid from Coney Island” premiered at BAM on March 6 with a star-studded lineup of NBA players and movie stars — from Kevin Durant to Forest Whittaker — coming to pay tribute to Marbury, who spent large portions of his illustrious career with both the Knicks and Nets.
The documentary features interviews with family, friends, fellow players, and journalists who paint a behind-the-scenes look at Marbury’s upbringing in the neighborhood during a time of high street crime in the borough.
“This brother never had an emotional break in his life,” says veteran sports reporter Stephen A. Smith.
But directors Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah manage to tell the story of Marbury’s ascent out of Coney Island to the top of NBA stardom — with all the gritty obstacles the young Brooklynite overcame during his rise.
In 1998, Spike Lee directed He Got Game, a movie about a fictionalized young man who came out of Coney Island’s Abraham Lincoln High School to make it to the NBA— with Lee attributing Marbury as a large inspiration for the film.
But Marbury would later go on to become something of an anti-hero during his Knicks years, often feuding publicly with his teammates and coaches, which lead to his dwindling popularity and earning him the title of “most reviled athlete in New York” from the Daily News sports desk.
By 2010, Marbury had fallen out of the league entirely — signing with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. He would go on to win three championships with the Beijing Ducks before retiring in 2017.