Dream Chaser ... far from storied arenas and parquet floors. Worlds away from hallowed gymnasiums, where the blood, sweat and tears of those who would be great someday once poured.
Thousands of kilometers from private jets, premiere sky clubs, lucrative pro contracts and celebrity lore. Light-years from the panacea of sports greatness where legends soar to nearly insurmountable heights that engrave careers and championships in the annals of history in gold are stories untold.
They are stories of dreams chased. And dreams captured. Stories of dreamers enraptured in the pure joy of the game, despite never having laid claim to world-renowned fame.
Stories of boys who once took aim at the NBA star and landed on the moon. The stories of boys who would become men and whose work, hope, yearning and love for the game would not go unrequited.
Stories of the undefeated that resound like the sweet symphony of boys playing basketball on a sun-drenched midsummer’s afternoon, near a city playground.
But then the storms come. The storms of poverty and socioeconomic circumstance. Of thorny hardship and weedy environmental happenstance known to kill dreams and consign far too many urban youths to poverty and calamity.
The storm of pain, which falls like a hard summer’s rain. But after the storm, the dream remains. And one day, the dreamer is no longer dreaming. And his arrival is nothing short of proof: That even if you shoot for the stars and land on the moon, hoop dreams can come true.
This is Carl Montgomery’s story. A Chicago native son, Montgomery, 32, is a dreamer and doer, and the subject of a forthcoming documentary short film, “Dream Chaser.”
- Director/Producer Aaron T. Lee interviewing Father Michael L. Pfleger, senior pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina. Provided
- Cinematographer Jonathan Gorczyca, Production Assistant Hannah Matthews, and Carl Montgomery with Lorenzo “Zo” Kennedy, owner of DeMarco’s Barber Lounge in Alsip, during production. Provided
- Carl Montgomery visits his father’s gravesite at Lincoln Cemetery in Alsip. Provided
- Director/ Producer Aaron T. Lee interviews Carl Montgomery at the Calumet Park Recreation Center. Provided
The film is produced and directed by another South Side born-and-bred Chicagoan and captures Montgomery’s continuing inspiring journey. The producer’s name is Aaron Lee, 33, not someone with whom I am unfamiliar — my former journalism student and a 2014 graduate of Roosevelt University.
A coming of age story, the project was completed under Lee’s A. Lee Productions LLC. Lee is currently seeking to land a distribution home for his debut documentary and funding to license archive footage in the film.
An Emmy-nominated senior sports producer for a television news station in Texas by day, he has spent his spare time — and poured his blood, sweat, tears and savings — into producing a story of hope.
It is a story, in my estimation, that could not come at a better time amid Chicago’s — and the nation’s — swelling deadly violence that extinguishes young hopes and dreams.
The story, set in Chicago, is told through the lens of Lee’s former high school classmate who eludes gangs, violence and street life. His is also a story of family and overcoming hardship, unexpected losses and obstacles.
At the narrative’s core is the notion that for hoop dreamers, it is not NBA or bust. That basketball can be one tool to opening doors and a passport to a successful life and career, even if that does not include NBA stardom.
The film, which shines the light on Chicago’s basketball lore, is sobering, heartwarming and uplifting with its backstory of family, enduring love and faith.
That is Carl Montgomery’s story. But it’s also Aaron Lee’s. He, too, is a dream chaser.
A young Black man, Aaron has eluded the mean streets of Chicago and endured losing his mother as well as other hardships in his journey to become a professional journalist and storyteller through which he hopes to bring hope to others.
In my humble opinion, Aaron has earned our support. And Dream Chasers is proof that when you shoot for the stars you can land on the moon.
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