PLEASANTON -- Jodi Jarnagin knew something was wrong. She'd given birth two previous times, but this delivery was different.

The doctors didn't talk about whether her baby was a boy or a girl. Instead, the news was that the umbilical cord had wrapped around the neck of her infant son, Kevin Laue. Jarnagin's thoughts raced. Could he breathe? Was there brain damage?

But there was more.

Upon delivery, doctors thought Laue had saved his own life by getting his arm in between the cord and his neck. The move prevented the circulation from being cut off to his brain; in turn, it stopped the circulation and growth to his left arm.

"I remember (Kevin) saying one time in an interview, 'It was either my head or my arm. Good choice, right?'" Jarnagin said.

Kevin Laue, left, as a child
Kevin Laue, left, as a child (Laue family)

Laue has overcome a great deal in his 23 years, going from the tall, redheaded kid picked on in elementary school because of his left arm to a Division I college basketball player, whose lack of a left hand drove him to earn a scholarship.

"It is human nature to want to win and losing isn't really an option," said Laue, a 6-foot-10 center about his drive to play basketball in college. "I found out that nothing is out of reach."

Laue's journey to college hits the big screen Friday when the documentary "Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story" debuts in the Bay Area at the Vine Cinema in Livermore. The film debuts the following week in Los Angeles and then New York.

The film chronicles Laue's life, starting during his junior year at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton in 2006 and through his freshman season at Manhattan College in New York City during the 2009-10 season.

Franklin Martin, the film's director first met Laue at a Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, when he coached against Laue. The two struck up a friendship; shortly after the tournament, Martin began filming Laue's journey toward a Division I scholarship.

It was a big gamble with no guarantee that the footage would end up on the silver screen.

"The hardest thing was not knowing if we would have a story," said Martin, a former basketball coach who made his first documentary about a high school football team's experience following Hurricane Katrina.

"We didn't know if he would get a scholarship. I knew he could do it, but nothing was guaranteed."

But Laue is good at overcoming the odds.

At age 10, Laue watched as cancer slowly took away his father. In elementary school, Laue was the tallest kid, and he had red hair and a left arm stopped at the elbow that made him a target. Then in high school, despite being 6-foot-10, people questioned whether he could play basketball without the aid of a prosthetic.

The doubts only fueled Laue's drive. When he made the varsity basketball team at Amador Valley High as a junior, he thought he was one step closer to playing at a Division I school. Then during his senior season and hours after he met then-President George W. Bush, Laue broke his left leg in a game against San Ramon Valley High, scaring away the small number of Division I schools that had paid attention to him.

"It was really tough," Laue said about the injury. "Any athlete who has been in that situation can empathize, and I understood that those coaches had their jobs on the line, too."

Laue didn't sulk. Instead, he turned down academic offers from Division II schools and chose to spend nine months at Fork Union Military School in Virginia to keep his dream of playing Division I basketball alive.

"That was tough," Laue said. "The motto at Fork Union is 'It is the worst place to be at and best place to be from.' It was very difficult and challenging, but you learn."

For nine months, Laue absorbed as much as he could both on and off the court at the rural school west of Richmond, Va. Then in May 2009, he traded in the green countryside of Virginia for the bright lights of New York City and Manhattan College, on a full-ride Division I basketball scholarship.

Then-Manhattan College coach Barry Rohrssen, who recruited Laue and is now an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, said in an June 2009 ESPN interview:

"We take chances on kids who have poor academic histories, who have disciplinary problems both on the court and off the court. We give opportunities to players who don't appreciate them, who take them for granted. For all the right reasons, Kevin deserves this chance, and he should make the most of this opportunity."

Laue made the most of it, playing three years for Manhattan before graduating early with a degree in business. He now spends his time crisscrossing the country as a motivational speaker, often breaking the ice by telling people he lost his arm in a shark attack while surfing in Hawaii.

"Kevin has said on several occasions that he doesn't regret having one arm and if he could have the choice between one or two (arms) he wouldn't change it," Jarnagin said. "He is that comfortable with himself."

IF YOU GO
What: "Long Shot: The Kevin Laue story," a documentary about Amador Valley High School graduate Kevin Laue, who was born with a partial left arm but overcame the odds to earn a Division I basketball scholarship.
When: Friday through Oct. 31. The film shows at 4:40 and 7 p.m. daily. Laue will hold a Q&A session Friday and Saturday following the film.
Where: Vine Cinema and Alehouse, 1722 First St., Livermore
Cost: $7.50 tickets for matinees; $8 for seniors and children; $10 for adults for 7 p.m. showings. Tickets are sold at the box office or www.vinecinema.com.
Details: For more on "Long Shot," go to www.kevinlaue.com or www.thekevinlauestory.com.