Mac Engel

Former Dunbar player ready to show his documentary about the legendary Robert Hughes

Former Dunbar boys’ basketball coach and member of the Naismith Hall of Fame, Robert Hughes, is the last person in the universe who would want a documentary about his life, but one of his former players gave him no choice.

Much as Hughes often gave his players no say in the matter, on this subject Michael Byars did the same to Coach Hughes. Byars was doing this, and he was doing this.

Byars, who played for Hughes and the Flying Wildcats from 1994 to ‘97, has made a documentary about his former coach.

“I wanted to do this because I want people to know who he is and what he did not just for me, or players, but for Stop Six and Fort Worth,” Byars said.

A project that began years ago is complete. His documentary about one of the most influential men in the history of basketball in Texas is ready to be shared with the public.

Byars has leased out the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum for a red carpet style premiere of his film titled, “5700 Ramey Ave: The Story of Robert Hughes,” which is scheduled for May 2 (5700 Ramey Ave. is the address of Dunbar High School).

There will be a red carpet arrival period that will start at 6:30 p.m.; the film will begin at 7:35 p.m., and a Q&A guest panel will follow the film with an after party until midnight. Byars could fill this auditorium with just former Dunbar players.

Tickets can be purchased at

Byars, who today lives mostly in Southern California, produced and financed this independent project himself.

Byars played at Miami and Northwestern State before a fascinating international basketball career that included stops in Iran and Central America. Not long after he was done playing, he decided he wanted to make this movie.

Like a lot of kids who grew up in East Fort Worth near the Stop Six neighborhood, Byars grew up viewing Hughes as a living, breathing Greek mythological figure. Like a lot of kids who played for Hughes, they still view him the same way.

“I had this in my heart to do this film as far back as 2002 or 2003,” Byars said in an interview this week at Dunbar High School. “I played for Coach for four years ... it was seeing someone you are in awe of every single day. ... He didn’t want you to fear anybody but him. And he used that fear as motivation.”

Hughes will turn 91 in May. According to friends and his former players, Coach Hughes still gets around but he has slowed down.

He did virtually everything a high school coach could do. And more. From 1973 to 2005, Hughes was the coach at Dunbar where the Wildcats won 1,333 games, and multiple state titles.

“Coach was more than just coach here. He was everybody’s hero,” Byars said. “Some people viewed him as a dad or an uncle or a grandfather. He meant someone to everyone here in east Fort Worth. He is somebody who should be cherished.”

It is only fitting that a man who played for Hughes would make a documentary about his life. After all, Byars lived it.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram