It's a cliché: A black kid from the projects sleeps with his basketball and dreams of becoming an NBA star. Then he can buy a house for his momma and lead his family out of poverty in a fleet of Benzes and Bentleys. The dream came true for Sebastian Telfair of Coney Island, and Through the Fire filmmaker Jonathan Hock has an advantage in telling Telfair's rags-to-riches story: Hock trained his lens on the 5-foot-10 (!) hopeful as he entered his senior year of high school and captured casual bits and pieces of his daily activities and conversations. The edited footage yields a genuine buildup of Telfair's against-the-odds succession into the big-money, high-pressure world of professional basketball. (He's currently a point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers.)
Hock's footage starts in 2003, as 17-year-old Telfair enters his senior year at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. He's a court star with a cult following and has already been recruited by the University of Louisville college play being the approved step toward the NBA. Telfair is somewhat sincere, but NBA ambitions still dance like demons in his head. As the season progresses, Lincoln's team is unstoppable and NBA scouts become omnipresent, even at practices. We witness old white men pitching woo to the clean-cut and cute charmer. Telfair frequently flashes his million-dollar smile; he's gifted with a sunny disposition as well as a loving mother and passel of brothers/cousins, all of whom are riding on hope for his prospects.
Hock's most illustrative footage is of the dazzling, sophisticated action found on today's high-school courts; the most obscene shows the execution of 18-year-old Telfair's $12 million endorsement deal with Adidas (a corruptive amount of money for a kid to live up to). Both help to illustrate the rhyme and reason of early recruitment.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.