via press release:
ESPN Films’ Benji to Premiere October 23 on ESPN
Latest 30 for 30 documentary examines death of Chicago high school basketball phenom Ben Wilson
ESPN Films’ 30 for 30, presented by Buick Verano, will premiere Benji on ESPN/ESPN HD on Tuesday, October 23, at 8 p.m. ET. A selection at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival, Benji is directed by Coodie and Chike and examines the tragic death of Simeon High School star Ben Wilson. The trailer for Benji can be viewed at espn.com/30for30/.
In 1984, 17-year-old Benjamin “Benji” Wilson Jr. was a symbol of everything promising about Chicago: a beloved, sweet-natured youngster from the city's fabled South Side, and America's most talented basketball prospect. Wilson was the first high school player in Chicago's history to be ranked as No. 1 and his senseless murder the day before his senior season sent ripples through the city and the nation.
“Ben’s death brought such grief to Chicago when it happened and it is sad to see that gang violence there is as bad as it was back in the 1980’s,” said co-director Coodie Simmons, a Chicago native. “All filmmakers hope that their film can have a powerful impact on people and maybe sharing Ben’s story can shed some much needed light on this epidemic.”
Several NBA stars have carried on Wilson’s legacy over the years including Chicago Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose, who graduated from Simeon in 2007 and, throughout his high school career, wore number 25 in Benji’s honor. Wilson's friend and Simeon teammate, former NBA player Nick Anderson, wore jersey number 25 during his career and Juwan Howard also wore number 25 at the University of Michigan as a tribute to Wilson. Current Simeon basketball player and top-ranked high school recruit Jabari Parker has the number 25 stitched into his team sneakers.
The remaining films for this slate of 30 for 30 documentaries will air as follows:
- · Tuesday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m. – Benji (Coodie and Chike)
- · Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. – Ghosts of Ole Miss (Fritz Mitchell)
- · Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m. – You Don’t Know Bo (Michael Bonfiglio)
Each 30 for 30 film will be available on iTunes and Amazon.com the day after its television premiere. The 30 for 30 Film Favorites Collection, a new gift set including the most popular titles from ESPN Films, is now available on DVD. 30 for 30-related updates are available at www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and www.twitter.com/30for30.
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing compelling sports stories. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody 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. Additional projects from ESPN Films include, among others, the critically acclaimed and Television Academy Honor-winning 16th Man, Cannes Film Festival official selection The Two Escobars, and the Peabody Award-winning Black Magic. More recent projects include Catching Hell, from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, and The Announcement, from filmmaker Nelson George. 30 for 30 Volume II has featured documentaries Broke, directed by Billy Corben, and 9.79*, directed by Daniel Gordon. For more information on 30 for 30, go to espn.com/30for30/.