Written by Eric “Ptah” Herbert and Michael Landers
Manchild is a documentary about a Los Angeles basketball legend by the name of Schea Cotton. There have been many stories told about Schea, and all of the ones about what he did on the court are true. This time though Schea and the people closest to him tell the story about what REALLY happened. A star studded documentary featuring Scoop Jackson, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Ron Artest, Tyson Chandler, Jason Hart, Stephen Jackson and Elton Brand to name a few. There is no such thing as a “lock” for the NBA because if that were the case Schea Cotton would be there, no doubt. (IMDB)
Manchild: The Schea Cotton Story Review
Schea Cotton is a name many might vaguely recall, but few will actually remember. At a young age, the kid was anointed the NBA’s next big thing. Heir apparent to Michael Jordan. The LeBron before the LeBron. As a high schooler, he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. He dominated opponents and wrecked the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett during youth camps in the mid-90s. He had a friggin’ shoe contract with Nike when he was a teenager!
At 6-foot-6, Cotton had the body of LeBron James, the shooting skills of Kevin Durant and the dunking power of Vince Carter. He was the whole package. NBA scouts salivated at his potential. In his sophomore season at Mater Dei High School, he averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Monarchs went 36-1 that season and scooped up a state title to boot.
The list goes on and on. Awards. Accolades. Press. Media. Everything. Cotton should have his own signature brand, a number of NBA championship rings, some Olympic gold medals; and rank among those enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Except, the fame stopped just as quickly as it arrived.
Manchild: The Schea Cotton Story explores the life of a superstar talent who devoted his heart, body and mind to the game of basketball and was ultimately cast aside by the same media moguls who spent so much ink propping him up. It’s the classic rags to riches to rags story, except it’s true. And heartbreaking.
Directed by Eric “Ptah” Herbert, and featuring the likes of Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Metta World Peace and Elton Brand, Manchild dives into the story behind the would-be legend of Schea Cotton and explores his meteoric rise to stardom; and his quick demise that befell him after a freak shoulder injury, poor test scores (mostly related to an illness known as testing anxiety) and a series of questionable allegations directed at him and his family. The documentary shows the grueling, grinding world of the professional athlete in which young people devote their entire body, mind and soul in the hopes of achieving superstardom. If anything, Manchild reveals just how good (and lucky) these professional basketball players are to land a career in an empire as vast an unforgiving as the NBA.
At one point, Cotton’s mother exclaims through tears, “This sport destroys a lot of people.”
Cotton reveals the torment he felt as he waited for his name to be called in the NBA Draft. He expected to go top 10 — 11 at the very least. His name was never called. Instead, Cotton, the once mighty prospect, played overseas and never made it to the NBA. “I didn’t get the breaks Kobe got,” he says mournfully.
His situation reached an apex when he pressed a gun to his head and came close to pulling the trigger. Except, he held back and decided to turn all of the negatives of his life into positives. He has since devoted his life to helping others; and served as a key inspiration — and, perhaps, a warning — to aspiring athletes.
Manchild is as engrossing a docudrama as you’ll ever see. Pieced together via archived footage and interviews with Cotton’s family, as well as a slew of professional athletes, the film gradually builds towards the inevitable tragedy, but shifts into a surprisingly positive reaffirmation of life in its closing minutes. No, it doesn’t break the mold in a manner like, say, Hoop Dreams, but Manchild provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes peak at the exciting but ultimately cuthroat world of professional sports.
As a society we too often focus on the success stories whilst negating the ones that never made it. Cotton never became a superstar, but he overcame a lot to become a great man. His story is worth your time.