Coach Carter

Coach Carter is a 2005 American biographical sports drama film directed by Thomas Carter. It is based on the true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson), who made headlines in 1999 for suspending his undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results.[2][3][4] The story was conceived from a screenplay co-written by John Gatins and Mark Schwahn, who created the TV series One Tree Hill. The film also recycles a handful of plot devices from another television series, The White Shadow, which director Carter also co-starred in. The ensemble cast features Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, Debbi Morgan, and musical entertainer Ashanti.

Coach Carter
Theatrical release poster
Directed byThomas Carter
Produced byDavid Gale
Brian Robbins
Michael Tollin
Written byMark Schwahn
John Gatins
StarringSamuel L. Jackson
Rob Brown
Channing Tatum
Rick Gonzalez
Music byTrevor Rabin
CinematographySharone Meir
Edited byPeter Berger
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • January 14, 2005 (2005-01-14)
Running time
136 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$76.7 million[1]

The film was a co-production between the motion picture studios of MTV Films and Tollin/Robbins Productions. Theatrically and for the home video rental market, it was commercially distributed by Paramount Pictures. Coach Carter explores professional ethics, academics, and athletics.[5] The sports action in the film was coordinated by the production company ReelSports. On January 11, 2005, the original motion picture soundtrack was released by the Capitol Records music label. The film score was composed and orchestrated by musician Trevor Rabin.

Coach Carter premiered in theaters nationwide in the United States on January 14, 2005 grossing $67,264,877 in domestic ticket receipts. The film took in an additional $9,404,929 in business through international release for a combined worldwide total of $76,669,806. Preceding its initial screening in cinemas, the film was generally met with positive critical reviews. With its initial foray into the home video marketplace; the DVD edition of the film featuring deleted scenes, a music video, and special features among other highlights, was released in the United States on June 21, 2005.


In 1999, Ken Carter takes over the head coaching job for the basketball team at Richmond High School, having played on the team himself. Carter quickly sees that the athletes are rude, disrespectful, and in need of discipline. He hands the players individual contracts, instructing them to attend all of their classes, sit in the front row of those classes, wear dress shirts and ties on game days, refer to everyone (players and coach alike) as "sir", and maintain a 2.3 (C+) grade point average, among other requirements. Carter also asks the school staff for progress reports on the players' grades and attendance. He teaches them how to play a disciplined brand of basketball.

In the gym, Carter is faced with hostility from the players and one of them, Timo Cruz, attempts to punch Carter but is quickly subdued. Cruz then quits the team in anger, along with the previous season's top two scorers. Carter warns the team that, if they are late for practice, then they will run suicides (a type of sprint touching the court's lines), and, if they act disrespectfully towards him, then they will do push-ups. He then orders them to do a series of suicides for one hour and seven minutes to improve their conditioning. Later, Carter's son, Damien, decides to join the team, after quitting the private school St. Francis. Shocked, Carter asks why he has done this, and Damien tells him that he wants to play for his father. Carter reluctantly agrees but holds his son to a higher set of standards than the rest of the team.

Kenyon Stone, the level headed captain of the team and the best player, struggles to come to terms with his girlfriend, Kyra, who is pregnant, unsure if he can juggle basketball and prepare for college as well as be a parent. In their opener against Hercules, Cruz watches the team win and then asks Carter what he has to do to get back on to the team. Carter agrees but on one condition: he needs to do 2,500 push-ups and 1,000 suicides before Friday.

During a practice, Carter tells Cruz to give up because it is impossible to complete all of the push ups and suicides by Friday. When the day arrives, Cruz is still short by 500 push-ups and 80 suicides. Other players, however, volunteer to do push-ups and suicides for him, saying they are a team and when one person fails they all fail, when one person triumphs, they all triumph, thereby getting him back on the team. On a game day, Carter asks Cruz what his biggest fear is, but Cruz is confused by the question. Later, the team won the game. Carter learns that one particular student does not attend classes: Junior Battle. Later in practice, Carter talks to Battle, who does not seem to be worried about it, so Carter suspends him for games. After a confrontation, Battle leaves the team in anger. Afterwards, Battle's mother asks Carter to let him back on the team. Carter says that he needs to hear that from Battle himself. Battle apologizes for what he has done and is allowed back on the team, but is told that he had to do 1,000 push-ups and 1,000 suicides to make up for it.

At the winter dance, Stone talks to his girlfriend about the baby and says he does not want to live that way. He asks her what she is going to do after the baby is born, believing that she would not know what to do. She angrily tells him that she is having the baby with or without his support.

The team goes on to have an undefeated record, eventually winning the Bay Hill Holiday tournament. Following their victory, the team sneaks off to a party hosted in a girl's house, without the knowledge of her parents. After looking for the players to celebrate, Carter goes to the house and orders his team to leave. In the bus going home, Carter berates his team for their reckless behavior, warning them to expect a grueling practice on Monday as punishment. He then unloads about Worm's tryst with the homeowner's daughter, "I find my drunk-ass point guard on top of Daddy's little princess!" Worm clarifies that he actually was on the bottom, as they were doing cowgirl position. Far from being mollified, Carter threatens to kick Worm not only off the team but off of the bus, forcing him to walk home. Cruz chimes in that they won the tournament and already gave Carter what he wanted: winners.

Back at school, Carter discovers that the progress reports show that some of the students have been skipping classes and failing academically. A livid Carter locks the gym, and sends his players to the library to study with their teachers. This upsets the players, especially Cruz, who quits the team again, stating that he had tried so hard to do all those push-ups and suicides for Carter, to get back on the team in the first place.

Later, although this priority to good values is praised in the national media, Carter is criticized by parents and academic personnel alike for his decision to lock down the gym. One night, someone throws a brick through Carter's store window for not letting the team play. The next day, a man pulls up next to Carter's car at a stoplight then proceeds to spit on his window and taunt him for his decision to lock down the gym. Carter becomes enraged and tries to retaliate, but Damien breaks up the fight. Later that evening, while Cruz is hanging out with his drug dealer cousin, Renny, he saves three of his teammates from being harassed by some gangsters, but when the drug deal goes wrong, his cousin is shot dead, leaving Cruz distraught. Cruz goes to the Carters' house and begs to be allowed back on the team. Carter comforts him and allows it.

The school board eventually confronts Carter, who explains how he wants to give his team the opportunity and option for further education so that they will not turn to crime, asserting that achieving a sound education is more important for the students than winning basketball games. A man suggests that Carter should be removed from the basketball coach position, which the board does not have the power to decide, which then leads him to suggest that they should end the lockout. Carter promises that he will quit if the lockout is ended. Principal Garrison and the chairman vote to not end the lockout but are outvoted by the other board members. The next day, Carter arrives with moving boxes with the intent of quitting, but he is shocked to find his players in the gym with desks and papers, studying and working to bring their grades back up. The athletes decide to fulfill Carter's original intention of them pursuing academic success before continuing to play their next game. Cruz answers Carter's question about fear and thanks him for saving his life. Carter decides to stay. The players work hard and eventually raise their grade point averages to a point that fulfills their contracts. Later, Stone talks to Kyra about the baby and tells her that he worked it out so she and the baby can go to college with him. She reveals that she had an abortion by her own choice and tells Kenyon that he should focus on playing college basketball. He asks Kyra to come with him to college, with or without the baby, and she agrees.

The Oilers eventually end up competing in the state CIF high school playoffs but come up short to first-seeded St. Francis by just 2 points after a game winning shot by opposing star player Ty Crane. Nevertheless, Carter is proud of his players accomplishing their goals of having a proper education. The film's epilogue displays a series of graphics stating that a number of players went on to attend college and play basketball, such as Kenyon, Lyle, Junior, "Worm", Cruz, and Damien.



Filming locations for the motion picture included, Long Beach, California and Los Angeles.[6]


The original motion picture soundtrack for Coach Carter was released by the Capitol Records label on January 11, 2005. The score for the film was orchestrated by Trevor Rabin. An extensive list of songs are featured on the soundtrack, which differs from the soundtrack recording. The recording includes five songs which were not featured in the film: "About da Game" by Trey Songz; "Balla" by Mack 10 featuring Da Hood; "Beauty Queen" by CzarNok; "What Love Can Do" by Letoya; and "Wouldn't You Like to Ride", by Kanye West, Malik Yusef, and Common.

Coach Carter: Music from the Motion Picture
1."All Night Long"3:33
2."No Need for Conversation"3:38
5."Roll Wit' You"3:23
6."Wouldn't You Like to Ride"3:51
8."Your Love (Is The Greatest Drug I've Ever Known)"3:34
9."This One"3:06
10."Beauty Queen"3:44
13."What Love Can Do"4:04
14."About Da Game"3:39
15."Let the Drummer Kick" 
Total length:53:23


Following its cinematic release in theaters, the Region 1 edition of the film was released on DVD in the United States on June 21, 2005. Special features for the DVD include; two commentaries: Coach Carter: The Man Behind the Movie, Fast Break at Richmond High, Deleted Scenes and Music Video "Hope" by Twista Featuring Faith Evans.[7] The film was also released on VHS.

A restored widescreen high-definition Blu-ray Disc version of the film was released on December 16, 2008. Special features include; two commentaries - The Man Behind the Movie; Fast Break at Richmond High; 6 Deleted scenes; "Hope" music video by Twista featuring Faith Evans; Writing Coach Carter: The Two Man Game; Coach Carter: Making the Cut; and the theatrical trailer in HD.[8] An additional viewing option for the film in the media format of Video on demand has been made available as well.[9]


Critical reception

Coach Carter received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 64% based on 148 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson."[10] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[11] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on a scale of A+ to F.[12]

Box office

Coach Carter premiered in cinemas on January 14, 2005 in wide release throughout the United States.[1] During that weekend, the film opened in 1st place grossing $24.2 million from 2,524 locations, beating out Meet the Fockers ($19.3 million).[13] The film's revenue dropped by 24% in its second week of release, earning $8,015,331. For that particular weekend, the film slipped to 5th place with a slightly higher theater count at 2,574. The thriller film Hide and Seek opened in 1st place with $21,959,233 in box office business.[14] During its final week in release, Coach Carter opened in 61st place grossing a marginal $26,554 in revenue. For that weekend period, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy starring Martin Freeman opened in 1st place with $21,103,203 in box office receipts.[15] Coach Carter went on to top out domestically at $67,264,877 in total ticket sales through an initial 16-week theatrical run.[1] For 2005 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 36.[16]


The film was nominated and won several awards in 2005–06.

Award Category Nominee Result
2005 BET Awards[17] Best Actor Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
2005 Black Movie Awards[18] Outstanding Achievement in Directing Thomas Carter Won
Outstanding Motion Picture David Gale, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Black Reel Awards of 2006[19] Best Director Thomas Carter Won
Best Actor Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Ashanti Nominated
Best Film David Gale, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin Nominated
ESPY Awards 2005[20] Best Sports Movie ———— Nominated
2005 37th NAACP Image Awards[21] Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Samuel L. Jackson Won
Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film/Television Movie Thomas Carter Nominated
Outstanding Motion Picture ———— Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Ashanti Nominated
2005 MTV Movie Awards[22] Breakthrough Female Ashanti Nominated
2006 38th People's Choice Awards[23] Favorite Movie Drama ———— Nominated
2005 Teen Choice Awards[24] Choice Movie Actor: Drama Samuel L. Jackson Nominated
Choice Movie Breakout Performance - Female Ashanti Nominated
Choice Movie: Drama ———— Nominated

See also


  1. "Coach Carter (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  2. Turner, Miki (January 19, 2005). "The real Coach Carter is a class act". Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  3. "Coach scores points for academics". San Francisco Chronicle. January 8, 1999. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  4. McManis, Sam (January 12, 1999). "Richmond Rebound". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  5. Thomas Carter. (2005). Coach Carter [Motion picture] Production Notes. United States: Paramount Pictures.
  6. "Coach Carter Production Details". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  7. "Coach Carter DVD Widescreen". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  8. "Coach Carter Blu-Ray". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  9. "Coach Carter VOD Format". Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  10. Coach Carter (2005). Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  11. Coach Carter. Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  12. "Coach Carter". CinemaScore. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  13. "January 14-16, 2005 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  14. "January 28-30, 2005 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  15. "April 29-May 1, 2005 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  16. 2005 DOMESTIC GROSSES. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  17. "BET Awards 2005". Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  18. "2005 Nominees and Winners". Black Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  19. "Black Reel Awards winners". Black Reel Awards. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  20. "The 2005 Espy Awards Nominees". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  21. "37th Image Awards Nominees". NAACP Image Awards. Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  22. "MTV Movie Awards 2005". Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  23. "People's Choice Awards 2006 Nominees". People's Choice Awards. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
  24. "The 2005 Teen Choice Awards nominees". Retrieved 2013-02-03.
Further reading
  • Carter, Ken (2012). Yes Ma'am, No Sir: The 12 Essential Steps for Success in Life. Business Plus. ISBN 978-1-455-50234-9.
  • Niemiec, Ryan (2008). Positive Psychology At The Movies: Using Films to Build Virtues and Character Strengths. Hogrefe Publishing. ISBN 978-0-889-37352-5.
  • Johnson, Rick (2009). The Power of a Man: Using Your Influence as a Man of Character. Revell. ISBN 978-0-800-73249-3.
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