Bouncing Back -The Kojak Fuller Movie Project

Creator: Jesse Wilkerson
Age rating: Everyone
"Your mistakes don't have to define you." -Kojak Fuller. 5'-7" basketball phenom faces life challenges from Mr. Basketball to prison to high school coach. This is a story of overcoming life challenges as Kojak bounces back from success to failure to an overwhelming success.
Synopsis: Based upon Kojak's life, better known as Smoke because of his dark skin complexion and for his ability to move through the air on the court, the story centers around Kojak's fame as a 5'-7" point guard in a small factory town who won the coveted title of Mr. Basketball for the entire state of Indiana. In Indiana, it was nothing for thousands of people to turn up weekly for high school basketball games. The environment turned local athletes into household names and local superstars gained fame that almost made it impossible to live a normal teenage life.

Kojak was known by everyone. Scouted from elementary school his arrival in high school was almost likened to the hype of a heavy weight title fight. He lived up to every moment of it. This story is not only about his success on the court, but how the fame led to opportunities that were never realized as they slipped away because of many bad decision. But, that isn't the end of the story. Kojak has an inside story. A story that only a few people know. The success on the court was an effort to cover up a reality that he was living with along with the outward pursuit of women and the need to feel love.

The script tells the story of two people. On one end we see the athlete who carries the life discipline of a standout point guard. On the other end, we see a mentor who is familiar with all of Kojak's success but is a constant reminder of life wisdom and a peer who tends to be a frustrating conscience to Kojak along his rise to fame. They are one and the same person, but for viewers Kojak (younger version) and Smoke (older version) are playing out life on the same timeline as Smoke reaches into Kojak's life to try to guide him into a better place because he sees what the future holds for Kojak if he continues down this path. There is a convergence of the past and the future, the good and the bad, and everything in between.

Inevitably, Smoke can't save Kojak as Smoke is killed inadvertently while trying to keep him from the hands of drug dealers whom Kojak is involved with at the time. Kojak can't live with the pain. Shortly after Smoke's death, Kojak is engaged in another deal gone bad. Between the public accolades for his success on the court and the private life of the street, Kojak finds himself in court facing 20 years to life.

He loses it all. No college scholarships. No NBA opportunities. No more praise. He thought he was untouchable. He is drowned with sorry. While in the dark place of prison he is mentored by a man of faith who teaches him that his mistakes don't have to define him. He also teaches him about his true identity and helps him reconcile his inner challenges. The truth unfolds in the isolation and separation from fame. Kojak becomes a changed man. Love like light invades his life like never before. He sees hope. He has faith. He wants to give back. He wants to help (this whole movie is about helping others recover from life's mistakes).

Kojak gets married to his wife before being released from prison. He is released after serving 8 years. Kojak, in fact, becomes Smoke. He mentors young kids. He joins a semi pro basketball team and does motivational speaking in and outside the juvenile system and prisons to help those who have made life altering mistakes find themselves and gain hope and faith. He invests in their true identity. He reconnects with his children whom he missed.

The local school where he once played denies him the opportunity to participate as a coach. Kojak appeals to the school board for the opportunity to fill a vacant position. The community supports him. He is once again in the spot light of the local media and sports fans all over the state. He is a fan of the game and volunteers his time to attend Friday night games. One of the most supportive fans, he doesn't wear the title of the coach, but he coaches from the sideline. The young athletes so respect him that they listen to him as he shouts from the sidelines. The crowd cheers. The players love and respect him. This isn't about basketball. This is about "bouncing back."

Life challenges us all. We have all made mistakes. Life is about finding your own identity. Life is about bouncing back. This is the Kojak Fuller Movie Project, Bounding Back.

Today, Kojak is the assistant coach for the very high school he played for when given the title Mr. Basketball. He is a man that has gained the respect of the community and has a heart of gold.

Latest Work

  • Video 1 - Redemption Story
    Creative Notes:
    In Indiana high school basketball was God. Friday nights in the Fall involved 10k fans filling the local iconic gymnasium (Wigwam), home of the Indians, to watch legendary basketball players take center stage. Kojak Fuller was the best player in the state at the time. He was also father to 5 kids in high school by 5 different women and a drug dealer. He was on the way up & down at the same time.