Disney has been on a winning streak by bringing original, heartwarming, and family-friendly stories to life on its streaming platform. The latest on Disney+, Safety, is no exception. And even better? Safety is based on the entirely true story of its protagonist, former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey.
The true story of 'Safety' doesn't underplay its hero.
"With his mother in rehab for an extended period, teenage McElrathbey became the guardian of his younger brother, smuggling him into his dorm room in laundry carts and leaning on teammates and fans for help."
Director Reginald Hudlin didn't have to go out of his way to make Ray the hero — he was already larger than life. Reginald says in an interview with ABC7, "Ray's efforts inspired the team, inspired his entire community and what a great role model for us all to emulate...When you see someone doing the right thing against all odds, let's join in, let's help them."
His dedication to bringing this story to life is a reminder that overcoming the impossible requires faith and a little teamwork.
Ray's remarkable story proves that, even in a disheartening 2020, good people are still out there. Ray himself, when asked about the project for ABC7, spoke positively: "I'm glad they helped pick me to lead this little effort and inspiring others, and I hope that's what will come from it."
He is an adult with his own children now, and sees his college experience as a learning process pre-kids.
While the story was pretty accurate to life, there were a few details Disney left out.
Others may have qualms about their life's story being "Disneyfied," but Ray was delighted. He mentioned in an interview with Esquire the Disney film that inspired him growing up was Angels in the Outfield, and that the message of being able to persevere in the face of life's hardships was what got him through a troubled childhood.
In the same interview, Ray mentions one of the biggest aspects of his life that Disney missed was even more incredible — he wasn't just supporting one sibling when he was at college, he was really supporting three. Ray revealed he has three younger brothers, and had custody of his younger sister until she was able to graduate high school.
Although the main antagonist of the Disney tale is the NCAA (for those who don't speak sports-lingo, that's the National Collegiate Athletic Association), Ray told Esquire that the NCAA did actually come through for him and his family. He acknowledges the NCAA's shortcomings, but also says they provide a lot of opportunities for people "who wouldn't otherwise be going to college."
While Ray's story might seem almost too extraordinary to be true, people with drive and generosity in their lives are able to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. Themes of family, brotherhood, and teamwork make this Disney original a tear-jerker with a heart of gold. You can stream Safety now on Disney+.