Coach Carter: Samuel Jackson and Coach

Coach Carter: Samuel Jackson and Coach
Does winning on the court or field mean failing in the classroom?Ken Carter, a high school coach, made national news in 1999 when he locked up the gym and benched his entire undefeated basketball team for skipping classes and poor grades. In a city where the students were 80 percent more likely to go to prison than college, Carter showed an inner city basketball team that they can have a future that stretches beyond gangs, drugs, prison — even basketball — by getting a college education.


Their story is told in a new film called "Coach Carter," with Samuel L. Jackson portraying the controversial coach.

Jackson talks about the film and the man whose tactics were both criticized and praised: "[Carter] came in and took a team that wasn't very good and made them a very good team. And they made a deal with him that they would go to class, maintain a 2.3 grade point average, sit in the front row at his classes, wear a tie on game days and do community service. And when he held up his end by making them winners, they didn't hold up their end by going to class and doing the things that they should do."
Jackson continues: "Now, several of them did, but they were a team and because the team was not succeeding, he locked the gym, nobody got to play and they forfeited the games. And it's the story of what happened around that ... It was phenomenal."

"This is something you believe in and adhere to, right?" Dr. Phil asks Samuel.

"Definitely. And I was raised in that very same way," says Samuel. "Sports and band were extracurricular activities and if my curricular activities were not in line, I did no extracurricular activities. And we constantly read the bad stories, where guys are having their papers done, or coaches are cutting corners for them. But we never see this particular story, about a coach who was willing to sacrifice winning so that his kids would succeed."

"Were you a good student?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Totally, yes. I was president of the honor society. All kinds of stuff," he says.The real coach, Ken Carter, explains in an interview: "I think I was the only coach in America who took a stand and said, 'You know what? Education at this point in these kids' lives is more important that winning basketball games, period.'"

Dr. Phil welcomes him to the show.

"Was this premeditated at the time, to shut things down?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Let me give you a statistic," says Carter. "You are 80 times more likely to go to jail in our city than you are to go to college. You can't solve a problem on the same level as the problem ... Think about it now when you look at those statistics. One in every 500,000 would get a chance to play some type of professional sports. And all these kids thought they were going to play some type of professional sports. And they were like rock stars on campus: They were 13 and 0, they were going to win the state championship, and that's all they were thinking about. And they just kind of forgot about class and being good citizens and being role models on campus."
"How'd he do with portraying and telling your story?" Dr. Phil asks Carter.

"I was hoping he was going to mess up one line in four months of shooting because I was going to force him to do pushups!" he jokes. "He was never late, he was a true professional all the time, and a great role model for everybody."

Jackson explains that it's important to him to be a good role model to the other young actors in the film and by being on time, knowing his lines and being ready to work. "They learn that this business can be done and taken seriously, but you have a great time when you're doing it."

Dr. Phil introduces Chris, who was the captain of the team at the time of the lockout. He was shocked when he first learned of what his coach did, but says, "After we had a meeting and Coach Carter explained everything, I backed him with it because it was very important."
Damien, the coach's son, was also on the basketball team during the controversy. He was just as surprised as his teammates by what hid dad had done. "When I saw the chains on the door, I thought we were getting a new gym!" he says.

"Tell us what you two did after high school," says Dr. Phil.

Chris responds: "I went to a community college and got an
associate's degree in business management. I transferred to the University of New Orleans where I'm now about to get my bachelor's degree in hotel management."

"And I'm on my way to the University of California, Berkeley. And after I'm finished, I'm off to medical school," says Damien, while Carter looks on in pride.
Dr. Phil turns to Haidee Foust, who was the principal of Richmond High School at the time that Carter locked the gym doors.

"Were you suprised when he locked the gym?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Very much," says Haidee. "I played the devil's advocate a lot. 'What are the seniors' parents going to think when their kids don't play? What are the other teams going to think when they don't have another team to play? What's the community going to say?'" Ultimately, she stood behind Coach Carter and supported his decision.

Dr. Phil acknowledges Roy Rogers, who was Carter's coach when he was a student at Richmond High. He says he always thought there was something very special about Ken.

"Are you proud of what happened there? Do you see this as a positive thing?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I think there was a negative side the way people viewed what happened, but then they found out there was a positive side with what came about after it happened," says Roy.