Documentary shows LeBron, teammates achieving dream

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James has gone from the gold-medal stand to the silver screen.

The Cavaliers' megastar, fresh off helping the U.S. basketball team win gold at the Beijing Olympics, will be at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend for the debut of "More Than A Game," a documentary chronicling his rise to stardom and how he and four childhood friends overcame long odds to win a national championship in high school.

Combining footage taken during James' career at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in nearby Akron, along with one-on-one interviews by writer/director Kris Belman, home videos, and personal family photographs, the film is about much more than basketball. At its core is a story of friendship, loyalty and love.

"We set out with a goal as kids and we wanted to accomplish that someway, somehow by using basketball as a tool, not knowing that it was going to create other opportunities for us," James said. "We didn't know it was going to create a brotherhood and trust. We grew from kids into young men."

James is expected to be joined by friends and former teammates Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis for the premiere.

Like the much-acclaimed 1994 film "Hoop Dreams," which followed two Chicago high school students chasing their dream of becoming pro basketball players, "More Than A Game" focuses on how James and his friends' lives are shaped by basketball.

Their journey began together as 8-year-old boys, winds through years crisscrossing the country playing in AAU tournaments and finishes in their senior season at St. Vincent-St. Mary, a year when James came under scrutiny for accepting a $50,000 sports-utility vehicle as a gift from his mother and his eligibility was briefly stripped by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

At the time, Belman was a film student at Loyola Marymount. He set out to chronicle James and his friends' season as his final school project, a 10-minute documentary. But after gaining the trust of the players and coach Dru Joyce, Belman spent two months filming and eventually teamed with producer Harvey Mason Jr. to the full-length feature.

James hopes the film will inspire youngsters.

"We set out with a goal when we were 8 and we accomplished it when we were 18," he said. "It's a great story and I wanted to get it out to kids that have a dream, that they should continue to go after it, believe in it and live it if they want to accomplish something."