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The Basketball Diaries (1995)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  21 April 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 73,651 users   Metascore: 46/100
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Film adaptation of street tough Jim Carroll's epistle about his kaleidoscopic free fall into the harrowing world of drug addiction. As a member of a seemingly unbeatable high school ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marilyn Sokol ...
Roy Cooper ...
Construction Worker (as Vinnie Pastore)
Jimmy Papiris ...
Nick Gaetani ...
Bobo (as Alexander Gaberman)
Ben Monk ...
Tommy (as Ben Jorgensen)


Film adaptation of street tough Jim Carroll's epistle about his kaleidoscopic free fall into the harrowing world of drug addiction. As a member of a seemingly unbeatable high school basketball squad, Jim's life centers around the basketball court and the court becomes a metaphor for the world in his mind. A best friend who is dying of leukemia, a coach ("Swifty") who takes unacceptable liberties with the boys on his team, teenage sexual angst, and an unhealthy appetite for heroin -- all of these begin to encroach on young Jim's dream of becoming a basketball star. Soon, the dark streets of New York become a refuge from his mother's mounting concern for her son. He can't go home and his only escape from the reality of the streets is heroin for which he steals, robs and prostitutes himself. Only with the help of Reggie, an older neighborhood friend with whom Jim "picked up a game" now and then, is he able to begin the long journey back to sanity. Written by Mark Fleetwood <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Every punk on the block says it's not going to happen to them... but it does. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic depiction of drug addiction with related strong violence,sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

21 April 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Basketball Diaries  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,424,439 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Lewis previously appeared together in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. See more »


When Jim, Pedro and Mickey steal the car to sell to Mickey's brother, Jim is smoking a cigarette which he takes a drag of then throws out the window. When Pedro nearly crashes the car he is smoking it again. See more »


Jim: And in the next life, father, I'M gonna have the PADDLE.
See more »


Referenced in Absence (2013) See more »


Watusi Latin Boogaloo
Written by Joseph L. Altruda (as Joe Altruda)
Performed by The Joey Altruda Latin Explosion
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User Reviews

Very scary and realistic movie. As real as it gets.
3 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Beings that this was Leonardo's first leading role, he was very impressive as Jim Carroll. The movie also stars Lorraine Bracco, Marc Wahlberg, James Madio and Patrick McGaw as his mother and sidekicks respectfully. As an ex-addict myself, I could relate to his story and everything he went through. The movie was so real it brought up a lot of old memories that I thought I had forgotten. I wish every young person was made to see this movie as it takes the fun and games out of even recreational drug use. Not even the strong survive. I give it two thumbs way up and my sincere thanks to Jim Carroll for fighting off his demons to write "The Baasketball Diaries".

63 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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