Filmmaker honors late SDCC basketball star with documentary on mental illness

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego City College basketball team won a state title in 2017 and a former student decided to make a documentary about the team, but the theme of the film took a dark turn after a tragic loss hit the Knights.

Aspiring journalist and current SDSU student David Pradel spends much of his time at San Diego City College taking pictures and videos of the men's basketball team. During that time, he befriended number 24, Nate Edwards.

"He was so supportive of my video work and photos and all that, and it really touched and impacted me and influenced me to reassure myself that I could do this," Pradel told FOX 5. "If he was here he would probably message me or tell me, 'Hey are you going to make a video about the team winning it all?'"

So Pradel did just that, putting together a documentary on the 2016-2017 season -- even after tragedy struck the team. The filmmaker decided that telling, "the complete story of what happened would make me come to terms with what happened."

Edwards, a father of two and defensive star of the team, took his life shortly after the Knights championship, with no explanation. The documentary isn't just about the basketball state championship -- it's also a tribute to Edwards and an effort to reach out to anyone who may be struggling with mental illness to let them know that there is help.

In the film, Edwards appeared to have a bright future. "I can see myself coaching when I get older, you know, after I get done playing. Right now it's time to get a scholarship," he says.

Coach Mitch Charlens remembers the day Edwards accepted that scholarship. "Nate had just signed I think, that day that he killed himself, his national letter of of intent to accept a scholarship to Western State Colorado University," he told FOX 5.

Amber Koedyker, Edwards's girlfriends and mother of his their two young boys, urges anyone struggling to get help: "Mental health is real and anyone who is struggling ... they should know that there is other people out there who care about them regardless of what they might think."

Pradal, Charlens, and Koedyker all wish they could have one more chance to say something.

"I would say, even though he might not think that he was helping others, he was," Pradel said.

"Just that I loved him," Koedyker said through tears.

"I wish I could have talked to him one more time and talk him out of it," Coach Charlens shared.

The documentary also aims to raise college funds for the two sons Edwards left behind, four-year-old Nate Junior and two-year-old Dallas.

You can watch the documentary here, and help with fundraising efforts here.

If you or someone you know needs help, the suicide hotline is available 24/7: 888-724-7240 or up2sd.org.