For fans of New York City street basketball, the are several legendary names that get thrown around. Few carried the mystique and awe of Lloyd “Swee’Pea” Daniels, who stars in an upcoming documentary focusing on his rise and fall.
Daniels was regarded as the top prospect out of New York during 1986, drawing comparisons to NBA legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. For all of Daniels’ prodigious gifts on the basketball court, he battled demons off the court that would eventually vanquish his chances to be come one of the greats.
The documentary, The Legend Of Swee’Pea, is directed by Benjamin May who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign with to complete the film. ANIMAL New York writes that the production team has been shooting the film for the past two years, and needs to raise funds to bring the project home.
Here’s more from the The Legend Of Swee’Pea‘s Kickstarter page:
Lloyd Daniels’s unlikely rise to the NBA is the stuff that myths are made of: the most sought-after college basketball recruit of his generation, he got busted buying cocaine in a police sting operation. Two years later was almost killed after getting shot three times in the chest while negotiating an $8 crack deal. Yet somehow managed to make it to the NBA without having played a single college game, with remnants of bullets still in his body, and with years of crack addiction behind him.
Moving from the concrete to the dream and back to the concrete, we will depict a story that is completely human but also fairytale-like in its utter unlikelihood, and thereby implicitly unsettle the question that was raised about Lloyd Daniels throughout his career: is he legend or myth?
As noted by Levin, Daniels did eventually make it to the big leagues but the specter of his past drug addictions and legal troubles never escaped him. The skills were beyond obvious, but Daniels’ troubled past set before him a difficult path.
Daniels was also the subject of the 1990 book Swee’ Pea and Other Playground Legends: Tales of Drugs, Violence, and Basketball by John Valenti.
Today, Daniels coaches AAU basketball in New Jersey.
Photo: The Legend Of Swee’Pea/Kickstarter