The Basketball Diaries is a dramatic film about the poet Jim Carroll. The film stars Leonardo diCaprio and Mark Walhberg. Jim struggled with drug addiction, and this film focuses on his descent into the disease. Jim is a star basketball player, and the high school team he plays on is undefeated. The basketball team comprises much of Jim's identity, and being a great player is one of the most important things to him. Jim faces a lot of stress and pressures in his life. His best friend is sick with cancer and slowly dying. His coach abuses Jim and the fellow players on the basketball team. He begins to develop an addiction to heroin.
Jim's mother begins to get incredibly worried about her son, but he refuses to listen to her worries. He stops going home and begins to spend nights on the streets. His addiction to heroin begins to consume him. He starts to rob and steal from people. Soon, Jim is so addicted that he begins to prostitute himself in order to get money to buy drugs.
Reggie is an old friend of Jim's, and he sees how his friend is descending into drug addiction. He offers him help and tries to get him off the drugs. Jim is arrested and sentenced to time in a prison upstate. Jim is continually trying to get away from bad influences and keep himself on the straight and narrow. He gets out of jail only to see an old friend, Pedro, who tries to offer him drugs for free. It takes all of Jim's inner strength to say no.
Jim starts writing and telling people his story. For awhile, he even does a talk show all about his life and fight with drug addiction. The film is based on a biographical novel that Jim wrote after he recovered from drugs.