Coach Carter

94. Coach Carter (2005) [Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, language, teen partying and some drug material.]

summary from

In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both. He immediately imposes a strict regime typified in written contracts that include stipulations for respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades as requisites to being allowed to participate. The initial resistance from the boys is soon dispelled as the team under Carter’s tutelage becomes a undefeated competitor in the games. However, when the overconfident team’s behavior begins to stray and Carter learns that too many players are doing poorly in class, he takes immediate action. To the outrage of the team, the school and the community, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the court until the team shows acceptable academic improvement. In the ensuing debate, Carter fights to keep his methods, determined to show the boys that they need to rely on more than sports for their futures and eventually finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected.

directed by: Thomas Carter

starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Rob Brown, Robert Ri’chard, Ashanti, Channing Tatum, Rick Gonzalez

A Trailer

Conservo-Libertarian Reviews:
James Bowman
Nehring The Edge Christian Reviews

Abortion/Life Content:

Ashanti: Anyway, I got something for the baby today.

Rob Brown: We don’t even know if it’s a baby yet. I mean, it’s kind of early. You ain’t even been to the doctor yet.

Ashanti: Hello? I passed the pregnancy test, Kenyon. Three times.

Rob: These are kind of cute, though.

Ashanti: I know, I got good taste, right?

Rob: Yeah, all right. Precious little shoes.

Adrienne Bailon: All right. How about LaQuisha, if it’s a girl.

Dana Davis: LaQuisha? Okay, yeah, the ghetto called and they want they name back. Girl, LaQuisha? Be for real. You might as well call the baby Food Stamp.

Adrienne Bailon: You’re stupid.

Ashanti: All right, I was thinking I could call her Harmony.

Dana Davis: I like Harmony.

Adrienne Bailon: Harmony, oh, that’s good. I like that.

Dana Davis: What did Kenyon say?

Ashanti: Please, he want a boy.


Ashanti: I bought us tickets to the dance.

Rob Brown: Why you telling these loudmouth girls about the baby? Now everybody’s gonna know.

Ashanti: People are gonna know, Kenyon.

Rob: It’s not people’s business, Kyra.

Ashanti: Why you jumping down my throat? What’s wrong with you?

Rob: Look, me and coach been talking, and he thinks I can play college ball.

Ashanti: All right, so?

Rob: So how am I gonna do that and raise a baby?

Ashanti: I don’t know. I mean, I’m not saying it won’t be hard.

Rob: Hard? It’s already hard. The kid ain’t even here yet and I’m worried about how I’m gonna feed it, how I’m gonna pay for this and that. Everything. I’m not ready.

Ashanti: So, what are you saying? You want out? Is that what you’re saying? Go ahead and say it.

Rob: Look, if I wanted to be out, I would’ve been out by now, Kyra. That’s not it at all. I love you. I wanna be with you.

Ashanti: Yeah, as long as it’s convenient.

Rob: I’m thinking about what’s best for us.

Ashanti: You’re not trying to think about what’s best for both of us, you’re thinking about what’s best for you. You don’t want me to have this baby. You wanna leave Richmond. You wanna go play college ball. So guess what? We ain’t got to be ready enough for nothing, all right? I’m ready enough to do what I gotta do all by my damn self. So you can take these and go to the dance yourself.

Rob Brown: Kyra, what are you thinking? You can’t drink! You’re pregnant, girl.

Ashanti: Stop. It’s soda, all right? So why don’t you just go back downstairs and find one of your little girlies to freak with.

Rob: It ain’t even like that. Some girl just danced up on me. That ain’t ####.

Ashanti: Whatever.

Rob: You shouldn’t be here. If you’re serious about having this baby, you need to check all this b#######. Because if not…

Ashanti: If not, what, Kenyon? You wanna hold my hand through an abortion? Is that what you want?

Rob: I don’t know what I want. You so damn sure you wanna have this baby, why don’t you tell me how it’s gonna be. Everything’s great, right? Your cousin is 19 with two kids already, Kyra. It’s great?

Ashanti: It was great when we was getting down. You ain’t having no second thoughts about that. You loved me when it came to that.

Rob: Look, Kyra, I can’t tell you what to do, but I look around and I see exactly how I don’t wanna live. Paycheck to paycheck? Dead-end job? You make it seem like everything’s gonna be all good, like everything’s so wonderful.

Ashanti: You don’t care about me. You just wanna go to college, play ball and forget about me.

Rob: Kyra, that’s not even how it is.

Ashanti: I don’t care what you say. I’m having this baby.

Rob: And then what? You got everything figured out, right? So tell me what comes next.

Ashanti: They gave you a scholarship?

Rob Brown: Yeah, baby, a full ride.

Ashanti: Oh, my gosh. That is crazy. Oh, my gosh. I know you gonna kill it up there.

Rob: No, we gonna kill it up there. I told them about you and the baby. They wanna help us.

Ashanti: Kenyon… there is no more baby. I decided not to go through with it.

Rob: Kyra.

Ashanti: I had a choice to make, so I made it. For me, Kenny.

Rob: Well, when? Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone with you. I’m so sorry. Kyra, I’m so sorry you had to go through that by yourself.

Ashanti: My mom went with me. But I think that… I think you should go to school and play ball and do your thing. You know? I want that for you. And that’s real. I think you should be all you can.

Rob: I want you to come with me. Kyra, I love you. I want you to come with me.

Ashanti: You serious?

Rob: I’m serious.


a snippet from an article about actress Ashanti at CANOE’s Jam! Showbiz:

In this story of a basketball coach who inspired his players on and off the court, Ashanti plays Kyra, a girl who is pregnant by Kenyon Stone (Rob Brown), one of the team’s star players.

When Kenyon is offered a scholarship, Kyra has to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy or raise the child on her own.

“I’m hoping my fans don’t assume this is me speaking on the issues of teen pregnancy and abortion. My personal choices are not necessarily Kyra’s.”

from the review at “Nehring The Edge”:

The one flaw I won’t forgive is the filmmaker’s filching on the subject of abortion. One of the main character’s girlfriends unexpectedly has an abortion. The young man is clearly upset by her secretive decision but doesn’t act on his feelings. I felt the filmmakers had set up a strong scene where we actually felt the wages of such a decision. It was clear that a person who was going to be born and loved was needlessly terminated…or in my silly view of the world – murdered. The scene where the girlfriend admits the act to her boyfriend works against the rest of the film’s theme of responsibility, respect and honor. The girl did it for herself, thinking of no one else. Instead of using the lessons he has learned through the film up to that point, the boyfriend shows a little frustration and then moves on. The filmmakers should have condemned the killing of the kid. Even if they are pro-abortionists, they at least should have recognized that this girl did a horribly selfish thing. In the end these say nothing about it. Not passing judgement on wrongdoing is supporting it.

part of a review from Stephanie Zacharek at

What’s more, Carter’s treatment of social issues — not least among them that eternal hot button, teen pregnancy — is more progressive than anything I’ve seen at the movies in years. In that respect, “Coach Carter,” a picture straight outta Hollywood, puts smug, cutesy little indies like “Saved” to shame. […]

Instead of cluck-clucking over the prevalence of inner-city teen pregnancy, the movie acknowledges it as a reality, without exactly condoning it. When Kyra (played with flirty, self-assured charm by pop singer Ashanti) meets her boyfriend, Kenyon (Brown), one of the team’s star players, at the local burger joint and dangles a pair of baby booties in his face, her excitement over the impending birth of the couple’s baby is clear. But Kenyon, who loves Kyra and wants to be with her, but who is also secretly hoping to play college ball and build a better life for himself than that of most of the people in his community, begins questioning the path the couple are headed on: He realizes he’ll need to work to support the baby, and Kyra will too. As a young mom, will she be able to attend junior college? Does she care?

Kenyon wants Kyra to answer those questions for her sake as well as his because he’s a thoughtful kid and not just a useful stereotype. (“Coach Carter” may be conventional, but it doesn’t stoop to the dramatic cliché of depicting a black man’s skipping out on his girlfriend and kid.) To fully explain what’s most remarkable about “Coach Carter” would require revealing a few key plot details. But I don’t think it’s giving too much away to note that unlike “Saved,” in which a white Christian teenager becomes a mom without ever asking aloud, “How will I support this baby? How will my life change?” “Coach Carter” treats the issue of teenage pregnancy with a gravity that is, in this climate of restrictiveness about the way we discuss such issues, frankly shocking. “Coach Carter” is a movie about kids made by a grown-up. Because, sometimes, somebody has to play the authority figure, if only to be the voice of reason.

part of the review at

“Undisciplined” is a polite term for his team. These teenagers never go to class, one of them runs drug deals, and no one can tell them what to do. Concerned about the state of his neighborhood, as well as his culture, Coach Carter trains the boys to work hard. He requires them to keep a 2.3 grade point average, attend all their classes, wear a coat and tie on game days, and do community service. Plus, he accepts none of their disrespectful, illegal or plain dumb behavior.

After cleaning up their ways, the team finally starts to win, and they go on a huge undefeated streak. Winning isn’t enough, however. When their academic performance starts to decline again, Coach Carter shows how serious he is by locking the team out of two games, causing them to forfeit and lose their first games of the season. The players, the school and the community revolt, but Coach Carter is driven by conviction instead of popularity and stands firm.

These students are punks at the beginning of the movie, but Carter’s unswerving dedication to honor and discipline are a good example for them, and they change their ways. One player in particular goes from a sordid life of selling drugs to cleaning up his language and attending college. The coach wants to get as many of his students into college as he can, because he knows that it is their best shot at avoiding jail. He cites a statistic which says that one out of every three men in their local area are arrested.

COACH CARTER does not hesitate to moralize. It makes each character’s decision crystal clear, black and white, so that the audience does not miss anything. This is good because the characters are making positive decisions that reflect a biblical worldview. With his doctrine of old fashioned respect and determination, Coach Carter is a figure that Bible-believing Christians would especially enjoy.

What’s disappointing about the movie, then, is that the teenage mom-to-be, played by R&B singer Ashanti, decides to have an abortion. Her decision is out of character for the movie, as it is made hastily and without any notice, and it contradicts everything she has said earlier about the importance of having the baby. Throughout the movie, the audience sees the characters agonizing over doing the right thing, but the decision to abort sends a strange mixed message that is nothing like the rest of the movie.

from the pro-abortion commenter Stacy at Ezra Klein’s blog:

In Coach Carter, one of the player’s girlfriends has an abortion because she thinks she’s too young and has too many other priorities to have a baby. She and her boyfriend have drifted apart, and when he finally decides to come back into her life, she tells him that it’s already done, and he is ok with it. The movie portrays it as a good decision.

from the pro-abortion commenter larae at

Best choice scene I’ve seen is in Coach Carter. One of the basketball players’ girlfriends gets pregnant. She’s buying little baby shoes and everything until she and her boyfriend start planning their future and she realizes she wouldn’t have much of one. Then she gets an abortion. It’s pretty well done.

a snippet of a review from

Finally, Coach Carter is to be commended for including a responsible storyline in which a girl gets an abortion and nothing bad happens to her; in Bush’s America, a pro-abortion statement is practically an act of subversion.

here’s part of a blogpost entitled “Ashanti gets an abortion and that’s a good thing”

…By the end of the film, Kenion has gotten a scholarship to college and comes to Kira and tells her he wants her and the baby to come with him. But, astonishingly in a mainstream movie, she tells him there’s no more baby. She thought about it and realized it wasn’t a good thing for her and her future.

This shocked the hell out of me in the theater. A Hollywood movie, a family movie that condones abortion!?! Things that sane and smart never happen when teens get pregnant in media America. I half expected Kira to be run over by a semi! And even more shocking is that Kenion loves her still, he still wants her to come with him to college. They have a happy ending as far as the film takes them.

Abortion is a legal right, although an increasingly hard to come by one, for young American women. And for many young, poor, African American women, having abortions rather than babies would improve their lots in life tremendously. When Kira says there is no baby, I, as the audience, was clear on the fact that this was a good thing, that she had expanded rather than telescoped her future. I was even left believing that, from now on, Kenion and Kira would–gasp–use birth control! I was thrilled my sons, 13 and 12, saw this and got the message that unwanted pregnancies are bad news and should be prevented. And, if something goes wrong, abortion might be the best choice they and their partners could make. What we want for teens is, really, no baby, one way or the other.

part of a review from “Pansy and Peony”:

Coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) is a Joe Clark(a great man by the way who I think should be cloned and sent to every public school)esque type of man. He utilises strange tactics like discipline and a sense of self respect in how young men carry themselves to make a high school basketball team live up to their potential, and hopefully achieve college.

Now, I am not a very good movie reviewer because I never know exactly how much more of a plot I should reveal than what is in previews without spoiling the movie.

I will say I found the scenarios realistic. I do recommend this film and I would almost give it an ‘A’ except for one big problem I had with it that almost had me walk out. It made me feel so bad. One of the basketball players’ girlfriends, played by Ashanti, is pregnant. She decides because the future is unsure and she really wants her boyfriend to go off to college instead of remaining in a dead end life in the ghetto to have an abortion. After that all is well in the world. There is one point in the movie where Coach Carter stresses the importance of star athletes not getting special treatment and having to obey the rules like everyone else. But then the girlfriend has an abortion.

from the pro-abortion commenter Sozialismus at Pandagon:

In positive contrast, I was pleasantly surprised with the way abortion was handled in “Coach Carter”, which I’m almost certain was released by MTV Films.

Briefly, the film is a dramatization of the story of a basketball coach in Richmond, CA, who inspired his players to go to college and do something with their lives. One of the team members is a senior whose girlfriend, apparently also a senior, is pregnant. They’re both excited about the baby, then about halfway through the movie he realizes that maybe he isn’t ready to be a father. In an argument with his girlfriend, he tells her that he doesn’t know what he wants, that he’ll support any decision she makes, but that he thinks she should think about what their life will be like with the baby. They break up, but are reunited some time later, and we discover that she had made the choice to have an abortion on her own.

So, he left the decision up to her, and made it clear, twice, that he was supportive of whatever decision she made. She is portrayed as a woman who made a tough decision on her own to do what she thought was best, and is definitely not forced into any of the wingut archetypes of teenage slut, potential welfare queen, baby-killer, or aspiring domestic appliance and baby factory.

This was quite a minor part of the film, which was pretty much otherwise devoid of female characters. So I suppose that makes this affirmative portrayal of abortion still more pleasantly surprising.

part of an article entitled: “The New Underground Railroad”

Thousands of women come to New York each year for late-term abortions. A hundred New Yorkers take them in.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Friday, and Adeena is lying on a bed in my apartment, squirming in pain, her pants unzipped to reveal a disturbingly large belly. We’re watching a DVD she chose from the corner Blockbuster: Coach Carter, starring Samuel Jackson and Ashanti. Jackson has just taken a job at a ghetto high school, and he’s supposed to whip a bunch of thuggish boys into a championship basketball team. Ashanti is tight-jeansed and saucy, but sweet enough to have for a boyfriend Kenyon, the one teammate who’s serious about college. Buff young men make jump shots to hip-hop music and mouth off to Jackson, but the plot is so thin it’s obvious they’ll all be hugging by the end.

I’m a middle-aged white woman with a taste for Film Forum—Coach Carter is not what I’d rent on my own. But I volunteer with a local group called the Haven Coalition that offers free overnight home stays to women who come to New York for late-term abortions. Adeena, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, is 24 years old and 24 weeks pregnant. She’d caught a Greyhound from Pennsylvania earlier that day, and spent the afternoon at a clinic in midtown getting part one of an abortion that will be completed tomorrow. “Pick whatever you want,” I’d said at Blockbuster.

Adeena says she’s never been in a white person’s home. She peers at the paintings on my walls and at the jammed bookcases and Cuban bolero CDs and cassettes of classics from the Yiddish theater.

“Can I ask you something?” she inquires. “Why you doing this?”

“You mean sharing my place with you?”

I tell her I’m upset that people like her have such a hard time getting abortions, and besides, I remember being young and being (more than once) in a similar fix. I don’t tell her about the differences: how I always had Blue Cross Blue Shield and never went past seven weeks.

Adeena tells me she makes minimum wage as a health-care aide for mentally disabled children. “You have to pay a lot of attention to them,” she says, and I can see she’s trying to attend to me too. She wants to be sociable, but tonight it’s hard. This afternoon, sticks made of seaweed were inserted into her cervix, and a drug that causes fetal heart failure was injected into her belly. Now the seaweed is getting moist and swelling, and Adeena no longer feels movement in her womb. By tomorrow the swelling will have opened her cervix a few centimeters, allowing a doctor to extract the dead fetus with surgical tools and a vacuum machine.

I don’t know how much Adeena knows about these details. But I know, and so do other Haven members. The organization gives us a handout explaining everything so we’ll be prepared if our guests experience side effects. Of course, some complications go beyond the medical.

Why did she wait so long? we all wonder. We never ask.

It’s not difficult in most urban areas to find an abortion clinic that will treat women in the first trimester, when the vast majority of pregnancies are terminated. But 1 percent of abortions take place after 21 weeks, late into the second trimester, and many of these women must resort to making a pilgrimage to New York City. More late-term abortions are done here than anywhere else in the country. The procedure takes two days from start to finish. There’s a night of waiting in between.

Five years ago, Catherine Megill, a then-23-year-old counselor at a Manhattan abortion clinic, heard about a patient who couldn’t afford a hotel and was going to be sleeping on the street unless someone offered her a couch. Megill offered, and later she began asking friends to do the same. By mid-2001, her project had a name, Haven, and a half-dozen volunteers. It now has about 100 members and is the only group of its kind in the country. “You’ve heard of ‘armchair liberalism,’ ” goes the recruiting pitch. “But have you given any thought to ‘futon liberalism’?” Some 2,000 women have late-term abortions in New York City every year. This year, Haven members have opened their homes to 125 of them (including a 10-year-old). […]

The seaweed sticks are giving Adeena bad cramps. The only drug she’s allowed is Advil, and it’s not helping. Amid the pain, she’s struggling to stay with the DVD. Ashanti is pregnant. But her boyfriend, who’s trying for an athletic scholarship, isn’t happy about it. He tells her he doesn’t want a baby. Adeena groans. Whether from the movie or the pain, I can’t tell.

Late-term abortion is serious, hard-core. At 24 weeks, a fetus is at the same stage of development as those gruesome images shown on pro-lifers’ protest placards. “The last woman I hosted showed me her sonogram,” says Jennifer, a 26-year-old host who lives in Carroll Gardens. “Then she pointed out that the fetus was a boy. God! I didn’t know what to say.” […]

Back at my place, Ashanti’s nice boyfriend in Coach Carter has come around and decided to support the baby. But Ashanti has already had the abortion. She says she did it “for me.” But as she elaborates, all she talks about is Kenyon. “I think you should go to school and play ball and do your thing,” she says. “I think you should be all you can.”

“Hey, girl!” Adeena yells at the screen. “How about you?” She turns to me. “What about Ashanti’s thing, huh? What about hers?”

“You’re right,” I say. “What about hers?” It seems like Adeena is about to tell me her story: why she ended up needing the clinic and what she wants out of life when she’s finished there. But the movie credits are rolling and she asks for lights out. I set the alarm, fluff the quilt, and tuck her in.

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  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

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