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Cuba Gooding Jr. showcases DC chess mentor’s inspiring story in ‘Life of a King’

Ex-con-turned-mentor Eugene Brown will see his inspirational story come to the big screen as “Life of a King” starring Cuba Gooding Jr. is released in theaters this weekend.

Cuba Gooding Jr. at the 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards on January 16.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The independent film is based on Eugene Brown’s mission to help inner-city kids of Washington, D.C. learn life lessons through the game of chess.

Brown is the founder and CEO of the Big Chair Chess Club, which is located at the Deanwood Chess House in Northeast Washington.

Members of the non-profit organization have competed and won trophies in the Super National Tournament in Kansas City, Miss. and the National Scholastic Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. and Charlotte, N.C.

The chess club’s motto and Brown’s personal philosophy is “to always think before you move,” an adage he teaches troubled youth to apply to both chess and life.

The Washington city native had frequent run-ins with the law as a minor, eventually ending up in federal prison after a botched bank robbery.

During his 18 years in prison, Brown was introduced to chess and quickly developed a knack for the game.

Brown is now a mentor to disadvantaged children, helping to set them on the right path in life.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is receiving praise for his portrayal of Eugene Brown in the film, with The Washington Post saying he “exudes the fearless moral authority of a man who has nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

While promoting the film on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” on Jan. 16, Gooding Jr. became a little raunchy and stripped after receiving a robe from the TV show’s host.

“Men of Honor”, another movie based on a true story starring Cuba Gooding Jr., will air on BET on January 18 at 8 p.m.

“Life of a King” was released on Jan. 17 in 15 theaters, including AMC Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria, VA.