Common is teaming up with Steel Springs Pictures to produce the based on a true story film, Rising Above. The sports film tells the true story of Howard University’s 1971 soccer team and its coach Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips.
Taylor Materne penned the script which follows the 1971 HU’s soccer team, that was unfairly stripped of their champion title by the NCAA. However, a then 29-year-old Phillips fought for redemption against racial injustice for the soccer players and himself. Then in 1974 the team won the champtionship against St. Louis again in quadruple overtime. They went undefeated that season, 19-0, with 63 goals scored and only six goals allowed. That feat has been unequaled to this day.
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The now 80-year-old former coach, Phillips, continues to break barriers. He became the first Black professional soccer coach in U.S. history, and in 2020 he received the sport’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Steel Springs’ Peter Lawson and Common’s Stardust Films banner will produce the film.
“I’m very excited and grateful to be partnering with Steel Springs on this project. This inspiring story is one we never knew existed and together, are passionate about telling,” Common says of the film. “Taylor is an incredibly talented writer and someone we know who will tell this dynamic story with the nuance and sophistication that existed for these young Black men who were excelling in the late sixties while not only dealing with the struggles of racism, but also with conflict within Black culture.”
Steel Springs has also acquired Phillips’ life story rights, as well as the rights to his biography, “Rising Above and Beyond the Crossbar: The Life Story of Lincoln ‘Tiger’ Phillips.”
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Current and former U.S. soccer stars — Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Mo Edu, Oguchi Onyewu and Charlie Davies — are financing and executive producing the project.
“We are really looking forward to working with Peter, Common and Taylor to bring this powerful story about Coach Lincoln Phillips and Howard University to life,” Edu says.
“The story resonated with all of us on many different levels. From a sporting and social lens, it brings to light some powerful conversations that this group of young Black men had to deal with and champion against adversity,” Edu, the first overall pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft and previous MLS Rookie of the Year winner, continues. “The way the players and Coach Phillips overcame so many obstacles in order to achieve success in a time period of social unrest is inspiring, and certainly led the way for young Black soccer U.S. soccer players today.”
No casting or production has been revealed.