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LeBron James’ coming-of-age film ‘Shooting Stars’ premieres in Akron

LeBron James' high school days are recreated in the new film, "Shooting Stars," starring Marquis “Mookie” Cook.
Oluwaseye Olusa
Universal Pictures
LeBron James' high school days are recreated in the new film, "Shooting Stars," starring Marquis “Mookie” Cook.

The LeBron James Family Foundation is hosting a day of events around the premiere of "Shooting Stars." Filmed in Northeast Ohio, the movie tells the story of how James and his teammates – the Fab Five – led St. Vincent-St. Mary to become the top high school team in the country.

Although the film is being released June 2 on Peacock, there are private Akron screenings Saturday, including one for James’ teammates. He’ll be in Los Angeles with the Lakers, battling the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of the NBA Conference Finals.

One of the film’s producers, Spencer Beighley, says the actors captured the spirit and athletic prowess of the Fab Five.

"I think we found with movies like 'Hustle' and 'Shooting Stars' over the years: Taking athletes and teaching them how to be actors and putting them through that exercise is definitely more effective than taking actors and teaching them how to be athletes,” he said. “In this movie, these five guys can all play ball."

The project is based on James’ 2009 book of the same name. The film project has been in development for five years. Beighley said Northeast Ohio itself could almost be considered a character in the movie.

“It's about these four other guys, and it's about the city of Akron,” he said. “Akron was so instrumental in these five guys’ lives from the beginning.”

Filming locations in Akron included St. Vincent-St. Mary, Elizabeth Park and the Spring Hill Apartments, where James grew up.

“I think everybody on the crew kind of recognized it was really special to shoot at that specific location,” he said. “The actual apartments where it all started.”

The production also traveled to Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University as well as several other Akron locales.

“To actually shoot at the Swensons where these guys hung out all the time felt like we were actually back in the early 2000s,” he said.

Although the screenings in Akron are private, the I Promise School's House Three Thirty will be open to the public during the day, with a view of the red carpet starting at 7:30 p.m.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.