Over the years the Mission Hill housing projects of Boston have produced some of the best basketball talent on the east coast; high school stars, numerous division one student athletes, and nine players that were either drafted or played in the NBA, including a #1 overall pick.
Yet, at the exact same time, these same projects have brought forth countless 'streetball legends', many of whom never played organized basketball and were eventually devastated by various social and political forces resulting in drug addiction, mental illness, and long term incarceration.
The Mission is a documentary feature that traces the historical and social developments that helped shape the thriving basketball culture in the Mission Hill housing projects from the 1960's to the 1990's. A basic dichotomy emerged within this basketball community that saw equal measure of its talent succeed at various levels of competitive basketball while the other portion fell to the various detrimental social forces that were present within this housing development throughout that time. Specifically, the lives of two brothers, Wayne and Baron 'Tiny' Turner, will be explored in depth against the larger narrative of the basketball culture in Mission Hill.
The Mission Hill projects, initially built in 1941, with the stated intention 'to provide safe and sanitary housing to its inhabitants' was a direct result of the 1937 Housing Act and the federal funding of America's first round of public housing construction. Initially occupied by mainly Irish working families, 'the projects' were seen as a dramatic improvement from the slums that many of these families had transitioned from before moving into the new project. The fundamental features of public hosing, the provision of safe and sanitary housing for working families, was fundamentally challenged in the following years as the pre-existing economic paradigm of America was dramatically changing, and with that, certain essential features of the city. The subsequent decades saw a simultaneous 'white flight' of city families to the suburbs and a massive increase of African-American migrants that were leaving both the social restrictions and agricultural limitations of the South to search for new economic and social opportunities in the urban north.
The social and racial transition of the Mission Hill projects, from a white project comprised of working families, to a black ghetto beset with a host of sociological problems ranging from rampant crime, widespread drug use, unemployment, and family breakdown all happened within a twenty year window. Because of the clear lack of social mobility presented to its inhabitants, 2 specific activities emerged as the most popular choices for young men within the projects of Mission Hill: basketball and crime.
Our film is a story that traces the formation of this interplay between crime and basketball within a small housing project in the city of Boston, MA.