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Everyone loves the underdog. Especially one who triumphs in the face of long odds and adversity. In many ways, that’s what makes sports so special, especially when a true story is captured on film.
In my humble opinion, I list my top-10 greatest sports movies that were based on a true story.
1/ Brian’s Song (1972)
A made-for-TV movie that was later released in theatres, Brian’s Song brings to life the friendship of Afro American football player Gale Sayers and white teammate Brian Piccolo during their playing days with the Chicago Bears.
It also highlights how that friendship spawned Piccolo’s battle against cancer. Billy Dee Williams was stellar as Gale Sayers as James Caan did great justice to the spirit and heart of Brian Piccolo.
2/ Rocky (1976)
The ultimate under-dog sports movie which catapulted Sylvester Stallone to international stardom. Stallone based the story on the near upset of Chuck Wepner over Muhammad Ali on March 24, 1975. Wepner lasted almost a full 15 rounds with Ali before falling to a technical knockout. No one predicted he would last until the final round.
3/ Rudy (1993)
A true story starring Sean Astin that pays homage to the real life accomplishments of Daniel E. “Rudy” Ruettiger during the mid-1970s and his dream to play football for the Fighting Irish Of Notre Dame.
4/ Invictus (2009)
A drama starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Freeman plays South African President Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon portrays François Pienaar, the captain of the South African National Rugby team the Springboks.
The story chronicles the real life events from the 1995 Rugby World Cup played in South Africa and how the Springboks’ victory helped consolidate the recent abolishment of apartheid.
5/ Hoosiers (1986)
Hoosiers tells the story of a high school basketball team from small-town Indiana that wins the state championship. It does justice to the 1954 Milan High School state champions. Gene Hackman plays the pivotal role of the underdog coach and his team.
6/ ‘61’ (2001)
Never has a number in the title of a movie said it all like 61. The year was 1961 as the race between Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to break Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 home runs captured the entire nation.
Thomas Jane plays Mantle - the fan and media favourite to break the record as Canadian Barry Pepper plays Maris - a quiet, less endearing personality but just as capable as Mantle of reaching the elusive 61 home run mark.
Their friendship rather than rivalry to reach 61 is what makes the movie as Maris - in the face of intense scrutiny and pressure breaks the record on the season’s final day.
One of the greatest baseball stories of all time captured forever on film.
7/ Remember The Titans (2000)
The true story of a high school football team and its first season as a racially integrated unit led by their newly appointed African-American head coach. Denzel Washington stars as coach Herman Boone - instilled with uniting the team as well as the racially divided community of Alexandria, Virginia.
As the team posts a perfect season the community accepts the changes which further unites the team and the community.
8/ Miracle (2004)
The phrase "Miracle On Ice" is rooted in American folklore to pay homage to the United States men's ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics. The team defeated the powerful Soviets, who had won almost every championship on the world stage since 1954. Team USA won the gold medal with a win over Finland.
The movie Miracle does justice to the story of Herb Brooks played by Kurt Russell, who coached the U.S. team .
9/ The Blind Side (2009)
The movie pays homage to real life player Michael Oher of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. It follows Oher’s story from his lower class upbringing, through his years at Wingate Christian School and eventual adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, en route to becoming one of the most highly touted prospects in college football.

Quinton Aaron plays the role of  Michael Oher while Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw play his adoptive parents.
10/ Friday Night Lights (2004)
The movie chronicles the true story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team and their improbable run towards the state championship. It also highlights the football, obsessed community of Odessa, Texas where the school is based. Billy Bob Thornton stars as the Panthers’ head coach.
The movie spawned the TV series of the same name.



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