30 for 30 (2009– )
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In 1984, Chicago was in the heady grip of a Black Renaissance. Harold Washington was mayor, Michael Jordan had just signed with the Bulls, Oprah Winfrey was hosting a local morning show, ... See full summary »


Coodie, Chike Ozah (as Chike)


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Episode credited cast:
Ray Van Ness III Ray Van Ness III ... Narrator (voice)


In 1984, Chicago was in the heady grip of a Black Renaissance. Harold Washington was mayor, Michael Jordan had just signed with the Bulls, Oprah Winfrey was hosting a local morning show, and on the South Side a young man named Ben Wilson was the most talked-about basketball prospect in a city that was known for its great hoops talent. Handsome, gentle and magnetic, Ben Wilson's magical ability on the court was matched by his popularity in his school and neighborhood. In his junior year, he led Simeon High School to its first state championship. And that summer, he was named America's number-one high school basketball player by the nation's leading talent scouts. Then, on the eve of his senior season, the career of this exceptional youngster was abruptly and tragically cut short. Ben's grim fate sent ripples of horror through the city and the country. BENJI tells the story of a legend who might've been. Written by ESPN Films

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Release Date:

23 October 2012 (USA) See more »

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ESPN Films See more »
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References Benji (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

The story is very familiar--but the names, dates and places might be different.
16 January 2015 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

My guess is that you could make hundreds or even thousands of films very similar to "30 for 30: Benji". After all, for every kid that eventually grows up and makes it big in sports, there are countless others who fail miserably on their way to this grand life. In some cases, the kids end up destroying themselves and in some others they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the case of "Benji", I think it's a little bit of each--but mostly a case of a kid being in the wrong place at the right time.

Benji was a local Chicago kid who was expected to be a top college and NBA star. After all, going into college, he was the #1 ranked prospect in the entire world! Much of the film shows his life as folks talk about his accomplishments on the basketball court and how he was an inspiration to so many people. Later, however, he made a few bad choices (teen pregnancy and a few other missteps), but he still seemed destined for greatness....until some punks decided to kill him for no particular reason.

All in all, a very depressing episode of "30 for 30"--perhaps the most depressing. Well worth seeing but one that is occasionally marred by folks talking about this young man like he was some sort of angel. He wasn't--he was very, very normal--and to me, that is what makes this story so sad, as just about all our kids are normal! What a loss. Additionally, call me a cynic if you'd like but some of the interviewees seemed more like folks who were more interested in being seen than about Benji and his untimely death--and one of Benji's family members said as much in one of the clips. I think dropping many of the interviewees in favor of those who knew and loved the kid would have tightened this one up a bit and made it a great episode instead of just another good one from "30 for 30".

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