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"This is definitely not your typical story and Ken Carter is not your typical guy,” says Academy Award® nominee Samuel L. Jackson about the controversial coach he portrays. "Both the story and Ken are about teaching young people to expect more from themselves and to see beyond their present.”

Three-time Emmy-winning director Thomas Carter ("Save the Last Dance,” "Hill Street Blues”) totally agrees, adding that Jackson was the perfect choice to bring the no-nonsense Ken Carter (no relation) to life.

"It's rare to find such a compelling story with such a driven, yet truly likeable lead character,” says Carter. "Ken's unwavering dedication and his enthusiasm for what he believes in is extraordinary. We needed someone who could translate his passion for both the kids and basketball to the screen, and Sam Jackson fit the role beautifully.”

Ken Carter couldn't agree more. "I had a very short list of actors who I'd like to see portray me,” laughs Carter. "Samuel L. Jackson was the only name on it.”

Bringing the story of the man behind the remarkable event, which happened on January 4, 1999, all began when producers Brian Robbins and Mike Tollin read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the lockout. They immediately contacted Ken Carter.

"We knew that this was a particularly refreshing story because it wasn't only about basketball, but also about human relationships,” says Tollin. "Coach Carter's fervent passion for bettering the lives of the young men on his team is nothing short of amazing.”

"What's also extraordinary is how this one act affected the entire Richmond community,” adds Robbins. "Not only did it pull the community apart.. .but it also pulled it together.”

Executive Vice President of MTV Films David Gale says that the story is riveting and important at the same time. "This film is not only a great coming-of-age story, but it also has a message that will resonate with audiences.”

Director Caner, whose hugely successful film "Save the Last Dance” spoke to the importance of following your dreams no matter the challenges or what people may think, says that one of his main goals in directing "Coach Carter” was to stay away from stereotyping.

"I wanted to deal with the good and bad of high school sports, how playing ball can focus a kid toward a dream, but how that dream can also be unrealistic and narrow,” says Carter. "Equally important to telling the story of the lockout are all the individual stories of the players and the particular obstacles each faces.”

One huge impediment that stands in the way of one of Coach Caner's star players, Kenyon Stone, portrayed by Rob Brown, is his devotion to his girlfriend Kyra, portrayed by singing sensation Ashanti. Faced with Kyra's pregnancy, Kenyon is torn when he has to decide whether or not to remain in Richmond to help raise the child, knowing that if he does stay, it could derail his future.

Best known for his breakout role in "Finding Forrester,” Brown says that the multi-faceted role was something he simply couldn't pass up. "1 read a lot of scripts and choose my projects very carefully, and when ‘Coach Carter' came along, 1 could instantly ace what an important story it is,” recalls Brown. "My character, like a lot of the guys on the team, has his own problems, but he's a smart guy and doesn't want to make the mistakes he's seen other guys in the same situation make. But he really loves Kyra, so he's torn. It's a very real-life dilemma that a lot of young people face before they're ready to handle it.”

Grammy winner Ashanti, who makes her major motion picture debut, says that she was proud to be entering the film world with such a meaningful project "The script was peat. It really delved into the lives of these people and made you care about each and every one of them,” says Ashanti. "I think this movie is going to touch a lot of people beca

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