Documentary short

Heart over height: Johnny Ortiz’s journey from underdog to basketball sensation

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The lucky ones are born to win.

Thanks to their genes, they are bigger, stronger, faster. They possess all the natural gifts needed to become top athletes.

For everyone else? It comes down to hustle. You have to outwork, outrun, and outsmart. Every single day.


Johnny Ortiz, perhaps Boston’s most unlikely basketball star, figured that out a long time ago. And he’s never looked back.

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Ortiz, a senior at Brighton High School, has helped lead his teams to victory not with long legs or a formidable wingspan. He’s relied on his heart, tenacious spirit, and mastery of the game’s nuances. It’s all packed inside a tiny frame topped by an impressive Afro.

“Height,” Ortiz says, “is nothing.”

This Boston Globe documentary short premiered at Globe Live in October.

Scott LaPierre can be reached at; Taylor de Lench can be reached at