Chris Staples- Leaping Into Success

Raphael Haynes
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One of my biggest interviews, I ask him if he had any questions and he replies, “I’m just excited to do this.” He’s just as excited to tell his story as he is to talk about his movie. He gives me the notion that this interview isn’t the first, second or fifth interview he has done this week.

Chris Staples is from Saginaw, Michigan. One of five children, Staples fell in love with basketball while playing for an AAU team. “All I knew was like defense. I would just steal the ball and pass it to sombody else, that’s why coach had me in the game,” said Staples.

It would be a while before the gifted kid realized that he had a special ability to dunk. “My first dunk was when I was 17 and I was on a fast break and I just got it,” recalled Staples. Although he was a late bloomer in getting his first dunk, he caught on quickly and realized that this could turn into something special. “Within the same year I learned how to dunk, I was doing 360s and windmills.” 

Staples inherited his athleticism from his family. His mother ran track while his father was All-State in baseball. His father’s twin brother was a high jumper and his cousin Lamar Woodley was a former NFL linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals. 

Photo courtesy of Ballislife

The high jumper displayed his athleticism in high school as he played basketball, football and ran track. Staples didn’t play basketball his senior year but not by choice. “I had an ACT prep class and I missed tryouts that year and the coach didn’t allow me on the team that year. I was devastated,” said Staples.

Staples took advantage of indoor track and became All-State. “Every week I would make the paper because of track so I would post the paper on the basketball coach’s door just to let him know I made the paper.”

After graduating, Staples never played basketball in college. Still knowing he had a gift to dunk the ball, the Michigan native looked for opportunities to showcase his talents.  

The once track star decided to quit his job and work with a coach and go overseas to Spain to further his career. Staples was there for five months until he found out that it was a scam. After being upset with the results, he confronted the head man in charge of the camp. “He told me, You’re only in Europe because of me, you’re nothing without me,” stated Staples.

Although it was harsh and cruel, Staples realized that it was the truth. He made it a priority to make his own path and not to settle for what life was throwing at him.  

Staples subleased his house and slept on his own couch. “I did it just so I wouldn’t get comfortable and get complacent.” 

As Staples went back to his job, he applied for the Harlem Globetrotters just to see if they would respond. He got a reply and was invited to tryout based on the video footage he sent. After an impressive tryout, he was granted a job with a roster spot with the Globe trotters.

“I thought it was a scam, and when the recruiter told me I can quit my job, I told him I’m not quitting my job,” stated Staples. He continued to work until they flew out for tour. “It really didn’t hit me until my first game and I saw 10,000 fans in the stadium. I was like oh snap, I guess this is real.”

During his stint with the Globetrotters, he became an instant attraction. In 2013, he was invited to participate in an NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest and from there, his popularity started to grow. Someone recorded him dunking during the contest and the video went viral instantly on Youtube. “I started to get more invites to dunk contest and my name started to grow,” said Staples. 

Meanwhile, Staples had been appearing in commercials in Los Angeles. Not having any lines in them, he loved doing them. He received an email from director Tim Chey about a new basketball film called Slamma Jamma and how they were looking for basketball players. “Im like, I’m down, it’s a basketball movie,” recalls Staples.

Chris Staples dunking at Staples Center

The new “Dunk King” thought he was auditioning to become an extra in the movie playing basketball. When he found out he would get to say lines in the audition, he became even more ecstatic about the opportunity. “I was like cool, If I get a few lines in this movies, that would be even better.”

Little did he know, that the he was actually auditioning for the lead role. Chey liked what he saw and brought him back again and then the next day, Staples received a call from Chey stating that he was chosen to take the part of the main character “Michael Diggs”. “I was like the lead character?” stated Staples. “Then when I got the script, I was like, it’s like 100 pages.”

The once excited actor all of a sudden started to question if he could do it. “I told him I never acted before.” They told him he will be fine but the young actor didn’t go for that. “I was like, I’m not trying to mess up your movie,” Staples told him. 

In all of the excitement, Staples had a dilemma in choosing between the Globetrotters and the movie. Knowing he was great at what he did for the Globetrotters, stood in the way of the unknown of starring in a movie. After asking the GM and CEO about doing both, they said no.

The new movie star stepped out on faith by quitting the team and committing to the movie. “I don’t regret it at all because once I did that, everything started to turn for the good,” stated Staples.

The movie is about young man (Michael Diggs), a former basketball player who prepares for the national slam dunk competition while finding redemption in himself and in those he loves, after being released from prison, where he served time for a crime he didn’t commit. 

It signifies his journey to this point from dealing with adversity in which he didn’t deserve and used his dunking ability to create an opportunity to turn his life around. “It was parts of the film where I had to be emotional and upset and a lot of those things [in the past] helped me out. Having those experiences of people telling me no, what happened in Spain and quitting my job played a big part in me being able to fulfill my character in the movie.”

Staples starring in the movie Slamma Jamma

Staples has used this opportunity to help and create avenues for others that want to pursuit a career in dunking or expanding their career into an acting career or more. He has been touring all over the world participating in dunk contests and shining light to a skill that could lead to other adventures.

“My goal is to create a pathway for others who didn’t make it to the NBA or college who still want to have a career in basketball.”

From his Globetrotter days to a new show he help create called “Dunk King” to Slamma Jamma, his goal has been to create a successful life whether for him and his family or for others who follow him. It a fire that burns inside of him that keeps him motivated. “That’s all I been doing really, just to show off to my high school coach.”


Raphael Haynes

Atlanta, GA

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