Looking Back At Broken 'Dreams'
"Oh, it's still the 'hood," he said, laughing. "But it's a lot safer than Cabrini."
Bo Agee, Arthur's father, is now a pastor at the Upper Room Outreach Ministry on Madison and Pulasky, where the movie was partly filmed. He celebrated the church's third anniversary two weeks ago with Steve James in attendance. Sheila is a private nurse who mostly works with well-to-do families, and William's mother, Emma, is still at the same job, working as a nurse's assistant. She was able to move out of Cabrini Green two years ago and now lives five minutes from William, Catherine and their children.
Arthur has four children, too -- two boys and two girls from four mothers, ranging in age from 13 to 7.
"They weren't planned kids, that's why I know they're here for a reason," he said. "They're here to teach me a lesson about responsibility."
"Where would I be if 'Hoop Dreams' never happened?" he asked. "I don't know. I'm very, very happy. It helped my family out. Not only financially, but emotionally. It put that love back -- it put what was important first."
Said Gates: "What would have been ideal was for me and Arthur's family to live happily and that we have enough money to do whatever we need to do. But it didn't pan out that way. We never caught that next wave."
Agee starred in junior college and played two years at Arkansas State. He said his dream flickered when he turned down playing for the CBA's Connecticut Pride in 1996. Agee had worked out with the team and felt ready but instead decided to take a small speaking role offered by James in "Passing Glory," a TNT film about Louisiana's first interracial basketball game.
"I was going to put another two- or three-year run into trying to get to the NBA, like these guys," Agee said last month, amid the squeak of sneakers at the league's annual pre-draft camp in Chicago. "Instead, I made $17,000 for what? Seven weeks. I look at that now and I know I didn't make a real, 100 percent run. Outside, other social things intrigued me. I lost a little bit of the hunger.
"But it also opened my eyes up to reality: That ball is going to stop bouncing. That knee is going to give out."
He formed the Arthur Agee Role Model Foundation, which helps inner-city youths strive for a higher education, and visits Washington annually for a local Hoop Dreams scholarship fund's three-on-three tournament.
Gates committed to giving the game one more try at the outset of 2001. He put his ministry on hold and began working out with Michael Jordan during early preparation for Jordan's second comeback.
When Jordan began inviting NBA players to ratchet up the level of competition, Gates stayed home. Until Jordan called and insisted he come down.
"Will, we got your spot," Jordan told him. "I didn't give it away just because these guys showed up."
Gates held his own against NBA players, and Jordan promised him a tryout with the Wizards. He was all set to play in the team's summer league when he fractured a bone in his foot. The youngster in the film whose knee betrayed him was suddenly cursed again.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company