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Synopsis

The Love of the Game

As Sen. Barack Obama continues his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, his every move is scrutinized in detail. To truly understand this rising political star, however, it's essential to understand the importance of basketball in shaping his identity. From Obama's childhood, to his high-school years on the Punahou School basketball team in Honolulu, to the pickup games he's played at every stage of his life since then, the sport has helped forge many of the important connections in his life today. Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel sits down with the lifelong hoops lover, providing a rare look at this side of Obama's personality in a feature that includes footage of the presidential hopeful in action on the court.

Barack Obama on high school basketball team

Torii Hunter

Since entering "The Show" in 1997, Torii Hunter has made playing center field look easy. His electrifying, fearless style earned him seven Gold Gloves, as well as a new $90-million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. While these accomplishments speak volumes about his talent, they say little about the challenges overcome by Hunter, who grew up with a crack-addicted father and turned to baseball for salvation. Given the critical role the sport played in his own life, he is dismayed that many African-Americans no longer feel connected to the national pastime. Real Sports correspondent James Brown sits down with Hunter to discuss his life, his concerns and his efforts to change this troubling trend.

Mike Coolbaugh

On July 22, 2007, Mike Coolbaugh was hit and killed by a foul ball while coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers, the Colorado Rockies' Double-A affiliate. The death of this quintessential baseball "lifer" was a grim reminder of the dangers too often taken for granted in the game. This tragedy has affected numerous people in addition to Coolbaugh's wife and three children, including Tino Sanchez, who hit the ball that killed him, and Bill Valentine, the game's announcer, who coincidentally was the umpire behind the plate 40 years earlier when Red Sox star Tony Conigliaro was struck in the face by a pitch and badly injured. In a Sports Illustrated collaboration, Real Sports correspondent Frank Deford examines this heartbreaking story.

For more information on the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund, please vist their site.

Mike Coolbaugh hugs child

Staying Straight

While a junior at Dunbar High in Dayton, Ohio, 6'11'' Lee Benson, Jr. was a talented up-and-coming basketball star seemingly headed for big things - but he never played a game in college or the pros. In 1992, during what should have been his senior season, Benson was convicted of abduction with a firearm and sentenced to seven to 25 years behind bars. After more than eight years in prison, he was given a second chance by a coach at Brown Mackie Junior College in Kansas. Now, six years after his first interview, Real Sports correspondent Bernard Goldberg revisits Lee Benson, Jr. as he continues on the path to redemption playing professionally overseas.

133: April 15, 2008

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