‘A Kid From Coney Island’ Is a Story of Rebounding from Depression

When in doubt, shoot. That’s how I look at — Stephon Marbury

The NBA class of 1996 was loaded with talent: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Jermaine Hall, Antoine Walker, and the point god, Stephon Marbury. Back then, Marbury and Allen Iverson’s unorthodox style of play in the NBA represented ghetto playgrounds across the world.

Marbury recently released his long-awaited documentary, A Kid from Coney Island. Like Marbury’s tatted frame when tattoos were not popular in the NBA, and his showy Brooklyn footwork on the court, the documentary is unorthodox in that is uses Claymation sequences, copied from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. In fact, Marbury was the inspiration behind Spike Lee’s He Got Game, starring Ray Allen as high school standout, Jesus Shuttlesworth.

A Kid From Coney Island (2020) | Official Trailer HD

Coming of age at Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School, where he won Mr. New York State Basketball in ’95, and from a household of NBA hopefuls, his older brother Eric was also sick on the court, Marbury, nicknamed Starbury, proved to be the golden child of the family. With Yo-Yo-like handles, sharp eyes made for dropping dimes, and race car speed, Starbury would play one year at Georgia Tech University before joining Kevin Garnett on the Minnesota Timberwolves for several seasons.

The Marbury and Garnett duo was promising but a series of trades took a tool on Marbury’s psyche. He was vilified by the press with journalists claiming that he wasn’t a team player and having “too much New York playground” in him. This sounds ridiculous. It was Marbury’s “New York playground” skills that enabled him to drop 50 buckets on Kobe, who finished that game with 38 points. However, the criticism continued, leading Marbury to fall apart in public. Remember, when he was on Youtube eating vaseline? Or the video where he broke down crying? We didn’t know it then, but he was in the grips of depression and calling out for help.

Everyone had a field day with those Youtube clips, and the fact that Iverson and Kobe were in beast mode probably didn’t ease Marbury’s unhappiness. What the media didn’t show us back then was that Marbury had recently lost his father, and he even considered suicide.

“He had everything in the world except happiness,” a close relative of Marbury said in the documentary.

For those unfamiliar with “New York playground hoopers,” you might expect that to be the end of the story. But ghetto kids are a different breed. Marbury experienced a spiritual reawakening, and begin playing basketball in Beijing, where he’d finally earn the fan support and media respect he’d long been craving.

Directors Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah tapped rappers Fat Joe, and Cam’ron for the documentary. Cam, who was also a New York City basketball star, played against Marbury at Madison Square Garden. Cam also rapped about halting a robbery of Marbury on the night he was drafted to Minnesota. Fans were also treated with interviews from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Marbury’s family members.

As a kid, I remember watching a NBC news story about Marbury, and reading Darcy Frey’s The Last Shot, which detailed Marbury maneuvering poverty, corruption in high school sports, and an underfunded school system at Lincoln High. He inspired me to spend countless hours on the court perfecting my jump shot and Yo-Yo-like handles. Today, A Kid From Coney Island acts as a blueprint on how to rebound from depression, and find happiness behind the money and fame.

Watch the full documentary on Amazon Prime.

staff writer at vibe.com. contributor at salon. educated: columbia univ. bylines: XXL, Black Perspectives, Washington Post, among others blogs.

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