Q Ball

Dan Clendenin
2 min readDec 13, 2020

By Dan Clendenin

Q Ball (2019)

The San Quentin State Prison, about forty miles north of San Francisco, is the oldest prison in California, founded in July of 1852. It might also be the baddest. It is California’s only death row facility for men (it still has an unused gas chamber), the largest in the country, and has been the subject of all sorts of concerts (Johnny Cash, BB King), books, films, videos, podcasts (Ear Hustle), and television dramas. Today it houses nearly 4,000 prisoners, some of whom really are, as the warden calls them, “the bad bad boys.” But as this documentary film shows, there are also many inmates at San Quentin who are very much on the road to redemption. In particular, this movie features the prison basketball program and its San Quentin Warriors, which was founded in collaboration with the NBA Golden State Warriors. There are two stories here. The one is how the basketball program has been a force for good, as the prisoners look forward to the grand finale at the end of the season when they play the Warrior’s development team, coaches, and staff. Then, there are the personal stories that the inmates tell about how they ended up in prison, their fears, their regrets, and their hopes. And hope, observes the warden, “is a real currency inside a prison.” I watched this film on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin: dan@journeywithjesus.net

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