BUFFALO, NY - Ritchie Campbell often uses the word redemption. Make no mistake about it, the man who recently saw his high school basketball scoring record broken has quite a story to tell.
Campbell's life is now the focus of an upcoming documentary, "Off the Glass." The premiere is
Friday, June 2, at 9:30 p.m. at the North Park Theatre 1428 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on-line.
Filmmaker Peter Johnson said, the film is a case study, about kids that grow up in impoverished conditions, and that grow up around substance abuse. Ritchie Campbell is the vehicle we use to tell that story, but the story has a bigger meaning because there's a Ritchie Campbell in every city."
The movie will also be shown in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, D.C.
"You learn what makes Ritchie Campbell, Ritchie Campbell. I think the biggest thing people will see is that even though he grew up in those circumstances and he had to overcome a lot tribulations, Ritchie is a sincere person," said Johnson.
Campbell held the WNY scoring record for 27 years. He played for DeSales and Burgard High Schools. His record was broken by Dominick Welch at Cheektowaga High School.
Campbell's life could have included a specatacular college career in athletics. Many believed he was NBA quality.
However, it was a 1994 shooting that ended a woman's life that sent Campbell to prison for a long time. Tears stream down his face when he talks about the tragic incident that he maintains was "an accident."
After high school he went to jail for a weapons violation and he was using drugs. Twelve days after he was released, Campbell says he was playing with a gun after he had been drinking all day. He was at his girlfriend's house. The gun went off and the bullet struck a woman, Yvette Donaldson. Campbell was 22-years-old at the time. Donaldson was 32-years-old. The two did not know one another.
He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to the maximum 12 1/2 - 25 years. He was released after nearly 17 years.
It was long after his release when he went back to prison for a parole violation. He was released last year and immediately started doing productive work and staying away from trouble.
While he doesn't blame anyone for his mistakes, there is no doubt his environment and lack of education played a role in how he developed after high school.
His reading and writing level was far below his grade level.
In a 2011 interview with Channel 2's Claudine Ewing, Campbell said he wants to make amends with the victim's family. "I would listen to them and what they have to say. As far as what I have to say, the word 'sorry' seems so empty. The only thing I can do is be productive out here."
During an interview in Delaware Park in May 2017, Campbell said he had a mild stroke while he was in prison the last four years. He still hits the basketball court and can make three-point shots.
"People are gonna look at you like you're just a talker, it ain't about people, but I didn't want to be looked at as just a talker, but I wanted to be someone who is responsible, who is sincere, who is genuine. So I made a pack with myself that from here on out, I'm going to have self-control, I'm going to do the right thing, I'm going to stay on top of Ritchie. I ain't going to let nobody, no peer pressure, nothing take me off of what I'm trying to accomplish out here," he said.
He's now working and has been assisting the basketball team at the Health Science Charter School in Buffalo. The team had a successful season.