How ‘Undefeated’ brought P. Diddy to tears — and on board as its exec producer

Sean Combs saw the documentary “Undefeated” and became unhinged.

“I was crying like a baby,” the rapper more famously known as P. Diddy admitted Thursday morning.

So moved by the film that is one of five nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary feature category, the multi-media entrepreneur Combs signed on as the executive producer after The Weinstein Company acquired the rights to distribute and possibly remake it somewhere down the road.

“Undefeated,” which opens in L.A. and New York on Friday and nationwide on March 2, is an inspiration story of life lessons told by Los Angeles-based filmmakers Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin that are centered on the 2009 football team at Manassas High in the innercity of North Memphis, Tenn., which has its best season after years of underachieving.

Volunteer head coach Bill Courtney is the “White Shadow” who changes the culture, with one of the storylines about an undersized offensive lineman named Montrail “Money” Brown suffering a severe injury but works hard to come back for the playoffs.

That’s the player Combs identified with most – he broke his leg in the last day of camp going into his senior year at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx, New York and never got to play.


“I went from the guy whose name was called every two seconds to one where anyone barely spoke to me again, said Combs, whose son, Justin, just received a scholarship to play football at UCLA as a cornerback. “You might as well not be on the team anymore.

“When ‘Money’ got hurt, he was lucky to have a different kind of coach help him (Courtney). I never got that chance. That was my first heartbreak – it wasn’t a girl. And that stayed with me. You pray to have people in your life like Coach Bill believing in you. That’s how I related to it.”

Courtney says the movie hasn’t changed him much from his role as a father of four, a husband and the owner of his own lumber yard.

“It can’t change me,” he said Thursday. “If you let something like this define you, then you’re ignoring too many important other things. Other than getting to meet a lot of really neat people, I’ve got my eyes oepn to the fact that a person like Sean who is a celebrity really is a generous human being as well.

One of the lines Courtney uses in the movie is that football doesn’t create someone’s character, but it reveals it. The movie reveals a lot of Courtney’s character to the world.

“I don’t care who you are, there’s going to be days when things hit you in the mouth and you lose faith in people, but one of the things this movie has done for me is restore my faith in successful people who are doing amazing things and aren’t just motivated by the almighty dollar.”

Combs said any kind of remake of “Undefeated” has not been determined. It could be more of a dramatic script that takes on the life of Courtney’s football coaching.

“The focus now is to just get it out into theatres, and the other parts will come in time,” he said. “That’s all part two. It’s still his (Courtney’s) life.”

“Undefeated,” which appeared briefly in L.A. to receive Oscar consideration last year, will play at the Rave 18 (in the Howard Hughes Center off the 405 Freeway near Culver City) and the Landmark (in the Westside Pavilion near UCLA).

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