While both men have lived more exciting lives than most, in part because of the movie, what's sad about the article is how little their lives seem to have been ultimately changed as a result of appearing in the film, or by basketball success, or anything. You would have hoped that the world to which they were exposed could have made their lives better, but, unfortunately, it doesn't seemed to have elevated them from where they began when the camera started following them in 1986.
If you've never seen it, Hoop Dreams is not a basketball movie. It's a movie about inner-city poverty in America, as experienced by two kids who happen to play basketball:
And as the film follows Agee and Gates through high school and into their first year of college, we understand all of the human dimensions behind the easy media images of life in the "ghetto." . . . Arthur's mother asks the filmmakers, "Do you ever ask yourself how I get by on $268 a month and keep this house and feed these children? Do you ever ask yourself that question?" Yes, frankly, we do. But another question is how she finds such determination and hope that by the end of the film, miraculously, she has completed her education as a nursing assistant. "Hoop Dreams" contains more actual information about life as it is lived in poor black city neighborhoods than any other film I have ever seen.
As Ebert wrote upon its release, "Hoop Dreams . . . is not only a documentary. It is also poetry and prose, muckraking and expose, journalism and polemic. It is one of the great moviegoing experiences of my lifetime."
It is true magic, and affected me like no other movie. You've seen it, right?