Kevin Bradshaw was supposed to be a basketball legend.
When he finished his senior year of college in 1991, he had broken a long-standing record for single-game scoring.
The Gainesville native had ostensibly earned a place in history as one of the greatest college basketball players ever. But the NBA didn’t draft him, and weeks later he was sleeping in the streets of San Diego.
Bradshaw isn’t dead, though. An award-winning documentary film about his life before and after his NCAA days will open at the Hippodrome State Theater on Friday.
“Shooting For Home” retraces Bradshaw’s life from 2008 all the way back to 1983. It maps his return from Israel, where he was a professional basketball player and coach, back to his early acclaim on the basketball court of Gainesville’s Buchholz High School.
“Everyone in town pretty much knew Kevin was the best player in the city at the time,” said former teammate Greg Kappy, who wrote, directed and produced the film.
“He was scoring 30 points per game back before there was even a three-point line.”
Courted by major college basketball programs, including the University of Florida’s, Bradshaw defied expectations when he chose to attend Bethune-Cookman University in the fall of 1983.
“Nobody could really understand why someone so good was going to this tiny little school that no one had ever heard of,” Kappy said.
And nobody tried to understand, Kappy said. For the better part of the past 30 years, Kappy said he thought his former teammate, who had problems with drugs and violence outside of school and basketball, was dead.
“We kind of heard that he broke Pistol Pete’s record” in 1991, Kappy said, referring to the 69-point single-game scoring record set by Pete Maravich in 1970. Bradshaw scored 72 points in the Jan. 5, 1991, game, according to ESPN.
But after the small buzz that season, Bradshaw disappeared, Kappy said. Fast forward almost 20 years. Kappy had relocated from Gainesville to Los Angeles, where he was working as a film location manager after completing a screenwriting program at University of California, Los Angeles.
He said he thought Bradshaw was dead until 2010, when he received a phone call from his former teammate.
“It was almost like I had heard from a ghost,” Kappy said. “He called me up out of the blue. I don’t know how he got my number.”
Kappy traveled to San Diego to meet with Bradshaw, who told him the story that he had been wanting to write ever since screenwriting school, he said.
“It just seemed like it was speaking to me in so many ways.” Kappy pitched the idea to Bradshaw to turn his story into a film, and they’ve been “off to the races ever since.”
The film took almost two years to complete, Kappy said. After showing at film festivals in California and central Florida, “Shooting for Home” is home in Gainesville.
“The movie starts and ends in Gainesville,” Kappy said. “Kevin kept going farther and farther away from home, to Daytona, to San Diego, to Israel, then all the way back home.”
The opening screening of the film is Friday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7.50. For more screening times, visit http://www.thehipp.org.
This story originally ran on page 7 on 8/22/2013 under the headline "Would-be basketball legend shoots for home in film"