“Safety” movie review: based on a true story


Courtsey of Alyssa Borring

By Alyssa Borring

A story of sacrifice makes the most heartfelt films. In the Disney+ movie ¨Safety,” released on Dec. 11, it takes you behind the scenes of two brothers named Ray and Fahmarr. Directed by Reginald Hudlin working with Walt Disney Pictures, he created a fact-based football drama with an inspiring tale. 

Many people struggle behind closed doors with some serious problems. An 18-year-old student puts his football scholarship on the line when he steps up to take custody of his 11-year-old little brother after their mother enters an extended stay at a drug rehab facility. This 18-year-old was named Ray, played by Jay Reeves, who is most known for his role Shawn in ¨All American.” Ray played the safety position, hence the title. 

This boy was cramming 18 credit hours into one semester, playing NCAA football for Clemson, and taking care of his brother. This caused him to be late to classes and perform poorly in football until he reached for outside help from his roommate, Daniel, his other close teammates, and his love interest, Kaycee. The younger brother named Fahmarr, played by Thaddeus J. Mixson, and this being his first movie. How exciting! 

During the course of his brother living with him, he finds out how poor his brother’s living was. Fahmarr was too scared to leave his money because his mother used to always find where he hid it, and use it toward her addiction. He saw barely any food, the tv and dad’s toolbox was sold, and many things were broken. Ray feels bad for leaving his little brother but still struggles with how he can support him now. 

One of his coaches of the team really looked out for him along with the community. Churches were helping him clean out apartments so he could save money on rent, the coach’s wife was driving Fahmarr to school, and they were invited over for dinners. From his lack of family connection and always being his own parent figure, Ray has never felt this type of love and support as he is so used to being independent. 

 Although this soon took a dark turn when the higher division of athletics found out as it is technically illegal to do this as it can seem like you are buying a player. Since he is receiving a full-ride scholarship, he is not allowed to accept any other forms of payments coming from the community. These acts of kindness, not asked from Ray but offered, were seen as outside payments. 

They made him choose between football or his brother. This was an easy decision for him as he was not going to let his brother go back to foster care. So he did the thing most older brothers would do and fight for both. He has two families now. He has a hearing with the NCAA board members where he pleads for a waiver. A waiver that allows the acts of kindness and for him to continue playing football with the scholarship and some extra help for his little brother. 

He has learned he cannot count on his mother anymore, so he was able to convince her for legal custody, making his case even stronger. He gives a very heartfelt speech to the chairman, causing people to shed some tears. Behind him is the entire football team, the Clemenson community, his girlfriend, and his coaches. 

Clemenson has taught him that it is okay to open your heart and accept help from others. It has given him another chance at life. He stresses to the board to not make him leave one family to care for the other. This speech was extremely impactful and came from the heart. Out of the board voting for the waiver, he got 3/4, which grants him the opportunity to receive the voluntary aid. 

The board expresses how they rarely see such support for a cause. That they have the pleasure of hearing from an impressive athlete. What makes a Clemenson Tiger is being selfless and committed, which the entire team showed during this route. 

It ends the movie with a happy scene of Ray playing football with his brother watching with a jersey on, Fahmarrs classroom teacher and Ray’s psychology teacher, who helped out as much as they can, Kaycee, and millions of fans. The team plays amazingly with talent, grace, and brotherhood. 

This story almost seems too good to be true. This movie used outstanding acting, footage, and scenery. However, this is actually based on a true story of Ray McElrathbey and his younger brother. His story has been on ¨Oprah¨ and continues to touch hearts and minds to this day. 

Today, Ray is actively involved with his local community mentoring the next generation of at-risk youth. He graduated from Clemenson in just 3 years and went on to Howard University for his Master’s Degree. Their mother lives away from them but has been drug-free for years. They do see their mother often. 

The cast itself is not very familiar, but the movie does not disappoint. The movie truly shows that winning off the field is much more important than on. It digs into themes of addiction, abandonment, and poverty that hits home in intense waves all around. It holds a light tone throughout the movie, even with these touchy subjects and intense scenes.

 This should be watched by everyone as it touched my heart with a happy ending. Two brothers navigating through their news lives, with a background like theirs, is much more complicated than most think. There is still so much more left to this movie to think about, so I recommend this movie to all viewers as it is meant to inspire.