Warriors of Liberty City

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Warriors of Liberty City TV Poster Image
Mature content, inspiring themes in compelling docuseries.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Gives viewers a candid look at life in mostly low-income, mostly African American inner-city neighborhood of Liberty City and vibrant sports program that looks to change fortunes of its athletes. Their stories are compelling, alternately distressing and inspiring, exposing pervasive influence of crime, gangs, poverty that threaten success and determined efforts of parents, coaches, and community leaders to give kids a chance to excel on the playing field and in the future. The harsh reality of inner-city life is presented without judgment and in the locals' own experiences, including drug use, crime, incarceration, homicide. Some parents put excessive pressure on their kids to play well, seeming to hang their hopes of a better life for themselves on them.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Warriors program benefits from adults who contribute their time and money to help the community's kids, from program founder Luther Campbell to gridiron coaches like Herbert Ritchie who use their own failings to inspire their players' success on the field and in life. The absence of strong family (especially father) role models in many of the kids' homes is a recurring theme as coaches and other parents attempt to fill those gaps and lead by example.

 

Violence

Many discussions about the street violence commonplace in and around Liberty City. A young player's recent shooting death and its emotional effect on his family and friends is referenced. Kids, adults talk about danger that exists in simple tasks like walking to the store, playing at the park; some scenes show evidence of shootings in bullet holes on houses and fences.

 

Sex

Sexual topics like teen pregnancy and sexual violence are discussed by teens who describe the dangers that are common to their community. In one scene, a girl talks about the precautions she takes to stay safe when an older man drives slowly alongside her as she walks home, for instance.

 

Language

Common use of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "damn," "goddamn," "bitch," and "ass" by adults, even around kids. Coaches yell and use profanity at players.

 

Consumerism

Warriors program gets a lot of recognition from the show, as do former players who've met with success as a result of their start there. Some brand visibility like Adidas.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults are shown drinking beer and hard liquor at home and while watching their kids' games. Likewise smoking is common. The influence of street drugs is discussed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Warriors of Liberty City is set in an inner-city Miami neighborhood whose successful youth sports program aims to counter the pervasive influences of poverty, violence, and gangs on its kids. The fact that the docuseries doesn't soften the subjects' firsthand accounts is both its greatest asset and its biggest stumbling block, since the chronic profanity and honest presentation of life in Liberty City make it a mature watch. Expect to hear a lot of strong language ("f--k," "motherf----r," "goddamn," "bitch," and "ass") in casual conversation and sometimes directed at kids and tweens. There's also visible smoking and drinking by adults at home and even on the football field. Residents talk about gun violence and gang activity, and the shooting death of a young friend is a team's inspiration for play on the field. On the other hand, the series reflects one generation's hope for a better tomorrow for the younger one, and adults' willingness to volunteer their time and funds to make that happen.

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What's the story?

WARRIORS OF LIBERTY CITY is a docuseries set in the Miami neighborhood of Liberty City, where a youth sports program has gained an impressive reputation for success in turning out football recruits at disproportionately high numbers. For this mostly poor and African American area, the Warriors program is a means of escape from the influence of gangs, street violence, and crime, and it becomes a way of life for the families who hang their hopes on their players' success. The program, founded by native and former rapper Luther Campbell, offers sports throughout the year -- including baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, cheer, and dance -- but it's the football teams' remarkable success at delivering the likes of NFL players Devonta Freeman and Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson that is the primary focus of this series.

Is it any good?

Produced by LeBron James, this compelling and dramatic show oscillates between emotional extremes to enlighten and inspire viewers for whom Liberty City's realities are foreign. It introduces by name a handful of players, family members, and coaches presumably representative of the broader community as a whole. Among them are ex-convicts working hard for better lives for their families, kids whose reality includes parents behind bars and childhood friends lost to gun violence, coaches who look to turn personal disappointment into players' inspiration, and girls with big dreams who feel overlooked by people who only see where they're from rather than who they are.

Warriors of Liberty City is a documentary within a documentary of sorts. It spans a football season, following the ups and downs of several different teams within the Warriors program, but it also speaks to the broader community's challenges in providing kids with a place to feel safe, supported, and inspired amid influences like gangs and violence. It is a story of optimism defying the odds of reality, and you find yourself rooting for not just the fresh-faced gridiron hopefuls but also their parents, their siblings, their coaches, and an entire neighborhood.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Warriors of Liberty City presents Liberty City residents' lifestyles. Does it ever feel judgmental? Are you surprised at anything you see? In what ways is your life different from those of the people in this series? What similarities do you notice?

  • How important are atypical role models in the Warriors program and this community as a whole? What instances do you see of people stepping up to fill roles that are missing in kids' lives, such as absent parents? How does it benefit a whole community to have these kinds of people in it? Do you have people in your life who inspire you in different ways?

  • How do the players demonstrate perseverance on the field and off? How do the lessons they learn in football (and other sports) translate to the rest of their lives? Do you learn more from success or from failure? In what ways does each outcome help you grow and improve?

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