September 17, 2010 / 8:54 PM / 7 years ago

NBA star Nash introduces film on his Canadian hero

3 Min Read

TORONTO (Reuters) - Steve Nash, a master director on the basketball courts of the National Basketball Association, could have a second career in the making as one behind the camera.

A point guard with the NBA's Phoenix Suns and two-time league most valuable player, Nash ventured into film to tell the story of Terry Fox, a cancer sufferer who inspired Nash and others with his attempt to run across Canada in 1980, despite an amputated leg, to raise funds for cancer research.

"Into the Wind", which was met with a standing ovation and few dry eyes in its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, follows Fox, then 22, as he ran a marathon's distance a day after he had his right leg amputated six inches above the knee.

An artificial limb made of steel and fiberglass was attached to the stump.

Interviews with family and friends and television footage, are interspersed with narrated entries from Fox's journals.

The film, produced by U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN, is intended to bring a new generation of Americans to Fox's story.

"The opportunity to tell it to a relatively new audience was very powerful," Nash said after the screening.

"Most of all, for me, it would just be great if the film can help Terry inspire people like he inspired me," he said. Nash was six years old and growing up in Canada at the time of Fox's "Marathon of Hope."

Initially mostly ignored by the media when he set off from Canada's east coast, Fox's run gained momentum as he pushed westward. Eventually crowds lined the roads to watch the man with the hop-step running gait that has since become ingrained in Canada's national psyche.

After 143 days and 5,373 kilometers (3,339 miles), two-thirds of the way to his goal, Fox was forced to stop running just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario. His cancer had come back and spread to his lungs. He had raised around C$2 million ($1.9 million).

Fox died nine months later. He is now hailed a Canadian hero and an icon in cancer research.

Nash co-directed the film with his cousin, Ezra Holland. Previously the pair have worked on viral videos for brands such as Nike and online content for CBS Sports.

Nash, who ranks among top players in NBA history for total assists, three-point shooting, does not intend this foray into film to be a one-off.

He and Holland are working on another documentary, this time about Brazilian soccer legend Pele.

The short film will be broadcast on ESPN on September 28. In Canada, it will air on Sunday to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the annual charity run, which is held in more than 40 countries. To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised C$500 million worldwide for cancer research.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

Editing by Ka Yan Ng

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