The 30 Best '30 for 30' Films

As ESPN's groundbreaking series celebrates its fifth anniversary, we pick our favorite films: tales of triumph, tragedy and (of course) 'The U'

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'The Best That Never Was' (Dir. Jonathan Hock)
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9. 'The Best That Never Was' (Dir. Jonathan Hock)

Because most athletes' prime years are in their teens and 20s – and because people that young tend to be dopes – a lot of 30 for 30 episodes are about jocks making terrible, life-altering decisions. The Best That Never Was is the most poignant of these, looking back at Marcus Dupree, a Mississippi-born running back so touted in the early 1980s that he had a book written about him before he'd really accomplished anything. Injuries, money mismanagement and badly applied "tough love" coaching wrecked Dupree's career and thwarted his dreams, but as this episode makes clear, what befell Dupree could've happened to any kid forced to squeeze his talents through a football combine and a Southern culture designed to suppress, not nurture.

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