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“Boys in Blue” documentary sheds light a community still dealing with the May 2020 murder of George Floyd

Jan 31, 2023


In the late 1990s, Minneapolis North High School was a basketball powerhouse in the state of Minnesota. 

Led by Khalid El-Amin, Jabbar Washington and Ozzie Lockhart, they had a record of 81-4 in 3 years while winning 3 state championships. Fast forward a decade later, things took a turn for the worse for the North community when the superintendent Bernadeia Johnson decided to close down the school due to a terrible enrollment rate.

During the fall of 2012, the high school reopened and it started to bloom. Graduation rates skyrocketed from 55% to 87%. Students started participating in extracurricular activities like clubs, volunteering and most importantly, football. Along with students excelling in the classroom, interesting things began to happen on the gridiron.

The four-part documentary series “Boys in Blue” premiered Jan 6 spotlighting North Community High School and its football team as the players come of age in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. The North Polars are coached and mentored by members of the Minneapolis Police Department, and together they navigate through rising tensions between law enforcement and the community. 

The clock ticks toward a public referendum that determines the fate of the force and the livelihood of the Polars’ coaching staff. The documentary follows the 2021 team while the community dealt with the May 2020 murder of Floyd (six miles from the high school) and an effort to defund the Minneapolis Police Department.

The Polars’ goal was the state playoffs held in U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings. However, this documentary isn’t about the scrappy inner-city team battling against all odds to make it to the state finals and win the championship. 

So many sport documentaries show the run-of-the-mill path to the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, but this documentary has no victories. After the team comes up short to make it to the championship, their star quarterback Deshaun “D-Hill” Hill gets shot in cold blood. Boys In Blue is painfully must-see television.

Hill was shot on his way home last February after he bumped into the alleged gunman Cody Fohrenkam, 29, on an icy narrow sidewalk in Golden Valley. Fohrenkam’s trial for second-degree murder was pushed back from November to January 17, 2023. 

Kahlil Brown, D-Hill’s lifelong best friend, had already watched the documentary with his football team before he came to the screening, reliving that year by watching the documentary. 

“It was a lot. It was difficult to pick a favorite part, but I liked seeing D-Hill smile,” Brown said.

The death of Hill left a huge hole in the community and the team. 50 people gathered in the music room at Lucy Laney Community School on the night the documentary aired. Boys in Blue represented something else: a chance to see their fallen son, friend, and star quarterback, Deshaun Hill, Jr. one more time. Midway through the first episode, many had to take a break because they could not handle it.

“A lot of kids said, instead of being LeBron James, they wanted to be D-Hill,” said Tuesday Sheppard, Hill’s mother. “It makes me feel like I didn’t fail him, and I did what I was supposed to do as a mother. I raised him right. It’s just unfortunate that it happened.” 

Directed by Peter Berg, who also directed Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, and Deep Water Horizon, the documentary aired Friday, January 6 at 8 pm for four consecutive Fridays. All four episodes are available on demand and streamed for Showtime subscribers as of January 6.

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