Although he’s currently best known as that guy whose tattoo artist tried to sue Warner Bros. for reproducing his design on Ed Helms’ face, Mike Tyson was once famous for being one of the best boxers of his day. It’s true! I read about it on Wikipedia. Now HBO has ordered a pilot for a new drama called Da Brick, which will be “loosely inspired” by Tyson’s early days as a boxer. Spike Lee has signed on to direct the episode, and will executive produce with Tyson, Entourage creator Doug Ellin and Jim Lefkowitz. John Ridley (Three Kings, Undercover Brother) will serve as writer and showrunner. Read more after the jump.

Ellin had been looking for an opportunity to produce when Tyson suggested the idea to him after the boxer guest-starred on Entourage last season. Ellin told Variety, “[Tyson] said to me, ‘Why don’t you do with my life what you did with Mark (Wahlberg’s) life’ with Entourage.” Ellin and Lefkowitz tapped Ridley to write, and Ellin and Ridley have spent the past year working with Tyson to collect material for the series. More recently, Ridley helped bring Lee into the project. An open casting call is currently out for the lead, with producers seeking a young (18- to 21-year-old) African-American male actor with boxing experience.

Like Entourage, Da Brick won’t be a strictly biographical show, but rather a fictionalized series inspired by Tyson’s life. The story will revolve around a promising young boxer in modern-day Newark, NJ. The title apparently comes from Newark’s nickname, “the brickyard city.” Ellin has praised Ridley’s script, calling it “amazingly intricate” with “lots of places it can go.” He’s also stated that the show “won’t just focus on boxing.”

I’m not a big boxing fan, but I like the idea of this series. The rise of a young athlete’s career is a topic ripe for drama, and the title suggests that the city will be playing a prominent role in the series. Besides, now that Friday Night Lights is ending for good, I need a new drama about a richly textured town obsessed with a sport I don’t understand.

Discuss: Would you watch an HBO series based on Mike Tyson’s early boxing career?

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