The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American coming of age crime drama film directed by Scott Kalvert, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg. The film is an adaptation of Jim Carroll's autobiographical work of the same name, telling the story of Carroll's teenage years as a promising high school basketball player and writer who developed an addiction to heroin with his misguided friends.
Jim Carroll's original "Basketball Diaries" was written in the 1960s (and later published in 1978), but the film is set in the 1990s.
The film is an adaptation of poet and memoirist Jim Carroll's (Leonardo DiCaprio) juvenile diaries chronicling his kaleidoscopic free-fall into the harrowing world of drug addiction. As a member of a seemingly unbeatable high school basketball squad, Jim's life centers on the basketball court and the court becomes a metaphor for the world in his mind. A best friend, Bobby (Michael Imperioli), who is dying of leukemia, a coach ("Swifty") who takes unacceptable liberties with the boys on his team, teenage sexual angst, and an appetite for cocaine and heroin, all of which begin to encroach on young Jim's dream of becoming a basketball star.