Mike Fleming

1193658507_0Is there room for a basketball version of The Blind Side? Actor/producer Danny Trejo thinks he has found one in Utah Jazz player Paul Millsap and his uncle/sports agent DeAngelo Simmons. Trejo, star of Heat and the upcoming film Machete, has acquired rights to the player and agent. Trejo and his ITN partner Gil Medina are turning the story into Ambition, a film they’ll shoot later this year. Just as Simmons’ own jock dreams were ending, his sister moved back to Louisiana with four sons she needed to keep away from the streets. She asked Simmons to teach them basketball, and when Paul Millsap grew into a 6’8”, 250 pound rebounding machine, Simmons learned to become a sports agent and brokered a four-year, $32 million deal for his power forward nephew. Trejo met Simmons when the latter played a small role in Vengeance, an action film that Trejo starred in and financed. danny_trejoTrejo plans to self-finance Ambition, and he ought to know a long-shot rags-to-riches story because he is one. Drug and crime problems as a teen kept Trejo in California prisons for nearly a decade. He straightened himself out behind bars, becoming a champion boxer and leaving the thug life behind to work as a drug counselor. That job brought him to the set of Runaway Train, where one of his clients worked as a PA. The film had a prison boxing storyline, and Trejo’s menacing look and authentic prison tattoos got him hired as an extra. When he was recognized by the film’s ex-con screenwriter Edward Bunker (who saw Trejo fight behind bars), Trejo was hired to train star Eric Roberts.  When director Andrei Konchalovsky saw their rapport, he let Trejo and Roberts brawl on film. That got Trejo a SAG card and a career that has spanned more than 180 films, many with his cousin, director Robert Rodriguez.

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