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From Rap Star to Movie Star
"My first dream, besides rapping, was playing basketball, maybe in the NBA," says Lil Bow Wow. "I wasn't really interested in the whole movie thing."

While Schultz, Josephson and Heller were confident that Lil Bow Wow was Calvin Cambridge, the young star at first had some doubts. "In almost everything I do," says Bow, "I just go with the flow, so I knew that once I got into the whole acting thing, I could do a good job. So I put my all into it.'

Lil Bow Wow's developing acting talent impressed the filmmakers and fellow cast members, but it was his skill as a basketball player that makes the character of Calvin Cambridge complete. Producer Barry Josephson says, "There's no doubt that if Bow hadn't had the skills coming in to the movie, I don't think it would look as good as it does.

The film's basketball coordinator, Reggie Theus, enjoyed working with Bow. "He's a great listener and soaked up everything I could give him about basketball and the NBA," says Theus. "He has to do some incredible things in this movie and he wanted to make sure that everything he did was right and true to form. I had to keep reminding myself that I was dealing with a fourteen year old kid. But after just a few minutes with him you understand why he's been so successful in everything he's done. And he handles the ball better than any fourteen year old I've ever seen.

Morris Chestnut previously had seen Bow Wow play, and knew he had some basketball skills. "We played together at a celebrity game at the Forum," Chestnut says, "and I remember thinking if I live to be a hundred and three I'll never have his basketball talent." But the veteran actor also knew that playing for fun with friends and playing for real in front of cameras and crew and making it look real could be an entirely different thing. Director John Schultz shared that concern.

"It's really hard when the cameras are rolling and all the people are watching, to actually make the shot under pressure," he says. "But Bow seemed to thrive in that environment." Schultz remembers one scene in particular. "Bow shoots a three-pointer an actual NBA three-pointer with the camera rolling. Nothing but net! And he did it again on the second take! Saved me a half day of shooting!"

High praise indeed. But only Bow Wow's NBA co-stars could provide the full perspective on the teen's basketball potential. Seattle Supersonics star Gary Payton: "He's got game, he's got potential. I'll be retiring just about the time he's ready to come into the league and he can take my position."

And San Antonio Spurs superstar center David Robinson praises Bow's skills, but with this caveat. "He'd struggle a little bit in the NBA with his size, you know," says the Admiral. "But with those special shoes, you never know."

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