Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Basketball Diaries is based on the autobiographical book by poet and performance-artist Jim Carroll. Set in the dimly-lit streets of Manhattan, it is the story of Carroll's reckless youth, spent skipping class, running around with friends, and abusing drugs. Eventually, his behavior catches up with him and he is expelled from school and kicked off the basketball team. Not only do Carroll's bad habits cost him his dreams of being a great basketball player, but on a number of occasions, they nearly cost him his life.
Carroll is perhaps saved, in the end, by another habit: his writing. Even when he is at his lowest, or nearest to death, he finds solace and clarity through journal writing. In these monologues and poems -- which ultimately became his Basketball Diaries -- he finds a constant that carries him through six months of jail-time and rehabilitation. As an epilogue, his writing eventually places him in front of an audience sharing these same stories.