White Mamba (USA, 8 min)
Directed by: Sean Conrad
One of my first days living in New York I got F’d by the F train (that’s why they call it the F train) and missed a show I was trying to see, so I decided to go into the city and eat some pizza instead. I got off at the West 4th Street Station and there was a pick-up basketball game going on so I settled in to watch. The players were mostly older guys who were ripped, black, and incredibly skilled. And then there was this one white kid, maybe ten-years-old, in a Kobe jersey swishing threes and talking shit like you can’t believe. “What’s that kid’s name?” I asked someone standing next to me. Without hesitation the kid shouted back, “they call me White Mamba!” and then dribbled gleefully down the court.
A first-generation immigrant from Italy, Brayan “White Mamba” Leka is a 7th grader who has earned a spot on the West 4th Street courts. Not anyone can play. But his charisma, determination, and genuine love for the game and the West 4th Street Family has ensured him not only playtime, but also respect from the other players. When I asked him if I could make a documentary about him he said, "Yeah, but only if you help me with my math homework first."