Fox Sports Net's award-winning documentary series BEYOND THE GLORY uncovers "The Truth" about Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce on Sunday, June 15 at 8:00 PM.
Paul Pierce's journey from the rough streets of Inglewood, California to the legendary parquet floors of Boston's Fleet Center has been an arduous one that nearly cost him his life. Weeks before the rising star began his third season with the Celtics, Pierce was the victim of a violent stabbing. While Paul Pierce fought for his life in a Boston hospital, the city was desperate for "The Truth" about what had happened to their local hero.
As a child, Pierce was a pudgy sharp shooter who turned to basketball to avoid Inglewood's streets and gangs. Though Pierce dreamed of becoming the next Magic Johnson, he still had much to prove as a player. He eventually grew into his bulky frame and embraced his role as team leader, guiding Inglewood High School to a division championship. University of Kansas Coach Roy Williams saw Pierce's potential and challenged him to be the missing piece to the Jayhawks puzzle. Williams lured California's top college prospect to the Great Plains of the University of Kansas.
By his sophomore year, Pierce was Kansas' leading scorer on a team of NBA-bound seniors. Though the heavily-favored Jayhawks were stopped short of winning the 1997 National Championship, everyone knew that Paul Pierce was the real thing. When he entered the NBA draft the following year, he was considered a top five pick. To everyone's surprise, Pierce was drafted 10th by the Celtics, the team that the lifelong Lakers fan had always despised.
Pierce arrived in Boston determined to turn around the young and struggling Celtics, but was nagged by a severe ankle injury throughout his rookie season. By his second season, Pierce was playing up to his potential. He and teammate Antoine Walker began laying the foundation for a return to greatness by one of history's most storied franchises. But in September 2000 his hard work was on the verge of crumbling.
While at a Boston nightclub, a group of unknown men stabbed Pierce to within an inch of his life. Remarkably, three days after his brush with death, Pierce walked out of the New England hospital on his own and back onto the basketball court. Though playing at half strength, he was the only Celtic to start all 82 games that year. By 2002 the Celtics made the playoffs for the first time in seven years and Pierce guided the team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It would take two years after the stabbing for the accused men to go before a jury. Conflicting stories and retracted testimony made the case even more of a mystery. And though William Ragland was found guilty of attempted murder and Trevor Watson was convicted of assault and battery, the truth about what happened that September night still remains a mystery.
Those interviewed in addition to Pierce include: NBA star Tony Battie and brother Derrick Battie, brother Jamal Hosey, former Celtics coach Rick Pitino, current Celtics head coach Jim O'Brien, former Kansas coach Roy Williams, detective and friend Scott Collins and surgeon Dr. Graham. Here are some quotes from the one-hour show:
"The world is right there for me. I'm young and doing what I want to do."
After being stabbed eight times: "I was just saying to myself, 'I hope I don't die. I just want to make it through this.' I kept asking, ' Am I going to live? Am I going to live?'"
On the Celtics: " I hated (the Celtics) growing up."
On his first season with Boston: "In college, I probably lost a total of about 11 games and then I came to the Celtics and in my first three weeks we went on a nine-game losing streak."
On Pierce's stabbing: "I remember the last thing he said on the hospital elevator as we were going up to surgery, 'They, didn't get my arm, did they?'"
"We got the greatest steal probably in the history of the draft, but we didn't know that."
On leaving the Celtics: "He just gave me a big a hug and he said, 'I'm sorry I let you down.' I said, 'You're the one guy that never let me down, Paul.'"
On luring Pierce to Kansas: "We tried to sell him on the idea he could be the missing piece to the puzzle. But that he had to earn it."
"No question, late in his freshman year, you could see that Paul was really going to be something special. The bigger the game, the better he played. He's the best scorer that I've ever had."
After Pierce's accident: "I remember the doctors saying that they didn't want Paul putting his hands above his head. The day they said that, Paul was down in front of the basket shooting."
Dr. Graham: :
On Pierce's recovery: "It's certainly fair to say that God was looking over his shoulder somehow."
Accomplished actor and voice-over artist D.B. Sweeney narrates Fox Sports Net's BEYOND THE GLORY series. The third season for BEYOND THE GLORY, the Sports-Emmy nominated series, features 20 original programs and is now a Fox Sports Net in-house production under the direction of executive producers Frank Sinton and Steven Michaels.
Future original episodes of BEYOND THE GLORY include: Jeff Garcia (June 22), Corey Dillon (June 29), Greg Louganis (July 6), Curtis Martin (July 13) and a special two-hour episode profiling Mike Tyson (July 16).