The transition an athlete takes when he or she steps away from the sport they’ve dedicated their life to isn’t always easy. Going from a situation where you’ve trained your whole life for this career path to it being over is difficult, but it’s one that every athlete must go through, regardless of how far they make it.
That’s the situation Omar Miller’s character Charles Graene finds himself in Ballers. He’s stepped away from his life in the NFL and had no real options after that. Though he finds his way, it was one that was difficult, and brutally real.
“It’s hard to go from completely adored to almost completely ignored,” says Miller. “A lot of these guys are macho guys, and they don’t want to admit any sort of vulnerability… There’s sort of a stigma attached to the transition.”
Retirement, and what comes next, is something that a lot of players are not prepared for. To prep for his role, Miller actually spoke with some retired athletes to get a bit of insight. Though he didn’t reveal the names of said athletes, Miller revealed that for many of them, going from the spotlight to just being a regular person can be tough.
The NFL actually does have a Transition Assistance Program, but former NFL player Chris Kluwe revealed to SI.com in 2015 that the program is only there for those who know it, and it’s not as helpful as many stars need it to be.
Ironically enough, one of Miller’s castmates was working on the very transition that his character faced. Donovan Carter spent his whole life training to be a pro athlete. He started playing football in middle school, went to UCLA and graduated in 2012. His dream was to play in the NFL, but that came to an end when he was cut by the Oakland Raiders. With his dream behind him, he had to refocus and find a new career, and thankfully, his coaches guided him to acting. Ballers is his first major role, and according to Carter, he related to Miller’s character a lot.
“Seeing it from Omar Miller’s character Greane, you get to see his transition from leaving the game, it was kind of similar to when I left the game and it was sort of like ‘what am I going to do?’” says Carter.
Though it is a comedy, much of the appeal of Ballers is how it aims to be a realistic (though entertaining) portrayal of the side of athlete’s lives that fans don’t normally see. Retirement is part of that, and that makes Greane a relatable character. Many former athletes like Dwyane Wade and even Kobe Bryant have reached out to Miller to compliment his handling of that lifestyle, which to Miller is one of the highest compliments he could receive.
He’ll probably get a few more calls now that Ballers Season Three is now available for digital download. Fans can watch as Greane takes a step back in an attempt to get ahead, something that everyone, not just athletes, can relate to.