LeBron James To Star In Film With Kevin Hart
Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James is taking his game to the silver screen with a role in a comedy film Ballers.
The small forward confirmed reports before Thursday's game against the Chicago Bulls that he will co-star with actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who plays the brother of an NBA star who gets a chance to prove himself at a fantasy basketball camp in Miami.
James - who will carry his own experience forward to the film in which he will take the role of the NBA player - said the opportunity to work with Hart was a product of their "friendship" and "mutual respect".
The role was "something I could relate to, as far as fantasy basketball and guys wanting to be basketball players" who "never had really had the great opportunity to be a professional athlete", he said.
The idea for the film was first mooted in 2009 but it has been delayed twice because of "King James" busy schedule.
Production is now pencilled in for summer next year.
James is not the first major sports player to move into the world of film.
Vinnie Jones transferred seemlessly his "hard man" image of the football pitch to the cinema when he made his debut in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels in 1998 and his film career has thrived ever since.
OJ Simpson was another success screen story - despite his disastrous personal life.
The megastar American football champion had diverse roles in a number of movies or TV series including Roots, Capricorn One and The Naked Gun trilogy.
Brazilian Pele, revered as one of the greatest footballers ever, starred as himself in documentary and semi-documentary films but then broadened his range with a part in 1981's Escape To Victory alongside Ipswich Town footballers of the '60s and '70s and actors Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone.
Perhaps the most famous of all sports-star-turned-actor was Olympic gold medallist Johnny Weissmuller who, as well as being one of the world's fastest swimmers during the 1920s, captured the hearts of females everywhere in his role as Tarzan.