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He Got Game

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Spike Lee
Produced by Jon Kilik
Spike Lee
Written by Spike Lee
Starring Denzel Washington
Ray Allen
Milla Jovovich
John Turturro
Rosario Dawson
Jim Brown
Music by Aaron Copland
Studio 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures (USA)
Release date(s) May 1, 1998
Running time 134 minutes
Language English
Budget $25,000,000

He Got Game is a 1998 sports-drama film written and directed by Spike Lee, and starring Denzel Washington and current Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen as a father and son trying to reconcile on the eve of the signing day for his son, the #1 prep player in the nation from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York,[1] and under pressure to decide which college basketball scholarship offer he will accept. The film features cameos by several well-known basketball players, coaches, and announcers.


Plot summary

It is based on the story of life story Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) is an extremely talented basketball player being pursued by the top college programs in the nation. His father (played by Washington) is a convicted felon serving time at Attica State Prison for accidentally killing his wife (Jesus's mother) by pushing her while arguing with Jesus at the age of 12. The father is temporarily released by the governor, an influential alum of one of the colleges Jesus is considering, so that he might direct his son to sign with the governor's college in return for an early release.

Box office

He Got Game was produced on an estimated $25,000,000 budget. In the opening weekend of its release, it was shown on 1,319 screens, and took in $7,610,663 at the U.S. box offices debuting at number 1. It eventually grossed a total of $21,554,585.

Critical response

Time Out London, in a negative review, summed up with, "Most scenes play too long, with a surplus of ideas, textures, tones and characters, and after 134 minutes it's clear Lee's problem with closure hasn't gone away."[2]

Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half-stars, and called it Lee's best film since Malcolm X. He was particularly encouraged by Lee's determination not to adhere to typical conventions.[3]


The soundtrack for He Got Game was composed of numerous orchestral pieces by Aaron Copland with songs created by the political rap group Public Enemy. It was released by Def Jam on April 21, 1998.

Awards and nominations

1999 Acapulco Black Film Festival

  • Best Actor — Denzel Washington (nominated)
  • Best Director — Spike Lee (nominated)
  • Best Screenplay — Spike Lee (nominated)
  • Best Film (nominated)
  • Best Soundtrack (nominated)

1999 NAACP Image Awards

  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture — Denzel Washington (nominated)
  • Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress — Zelda Harris (nominated)
  • Outstanding Motion Picture (nominated)

1999 MTV Movie Awards

  • MTV Movie Award Best Breakthrough Male Performance — Ray Allen (nominated)


  1. ^ Corcoran, Tully. "KU attracts Brooklyn star", The Topeka Capital-Journal, October 26, 2007. Accessed September 17, 2009. "Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., is to high school basketball what Odessa Permian High School, in Texas, is to high school football. Basketball rules there. Stephon Marbury starred there. Marv Albert went there. Even Jesus Shuttlesworth, the fictional baller played by Ray Allen in He'ssic Got Game went there. Kansas coach Bill Self may be spending a bit of time there in the next year, too. Lance Stephenson, a 6-5, 195-pound junior guard from Lincoln who is the No. 4 overall player in the class of 2009 recently contacted Self about his interest in Kansas."
  2. ^ He Got Game Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London
  3. ^ He Got Game :: :: Reviews

External links

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