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Just as Parker had begun to develop a relationship with his biological father, his mother and Whitfield got married and moved the family to Maine.When Parker’s biological dad, whom he had kept in contact with since the move, died unexpectedly of cancer, the combined forces of the death, the new environment and a domineering new stepdad became too much for the 11-year-old to handle.
The case went to trial, and Parker was eventually acquitted.
Hoping to place her son in a position to turn his newfound talent into a scholarship, Carolyn transferred Parker to Great Bridge High School, where legendary wrestling coach Steve Martin was running an elite program.
Martin took on the inexperienced pupil, later explaining to the that the two developed a bond, and that Martin eventually started confiding in him.
, which he wrote, starred in, directed and produced, earned universal praise, scoring an unprecedented million deal at the Sundance Film Festival and earning him glowing comparisons to Orson Welles.
But the acclaim has been overshadowed by his involvement in a 1999 rape case after recent reports surfaced that the woman had committed suicide in 2012, shining a harsh spotlight on a man who endured a troubled childhood before charting his path to stardom.
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, a historical drama that tells the story of Nat Turner’s famous 1831 slave revolt, has already gained early Oscar buzz, and it was a longtime passion project for Parker. you receive a hundred scripts in a year, and two of them you feel represent the experience of the black male with strength and power and integrity,” he told PEOPLE in February.