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Birdie is the main antagonist of the 1994 basketball drama film Above the Rim. He is a local drug dealer in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, who wants Kyle Lee Watson, the film's protagonist, to join his basketball team, the Birdmen. Birdie is the younger brother of a talented ex-basketball player, Thomas "Shep" Sheppard, whom he wants to join his illegal business.

He was portrayed by the late Tupac Shakur, who also played Roland Bishop in Juice.


One night was brought to Monarch High School, with Motaw, one of his lieutenants and the best player for his basketball team, the Birdmen, by Bugaloo, a low-level member of his organization, to watch the school's basketball, the Panthers, play against their rivals, the Tigers, as Bugaloo wishes to show Birdie his best friend, Kyle Lee Watson, who is a talented basketball player. During a timeout, Birdie sees his older brother, Thomas "Shep" Sheppard who is a former basketball player, is now working at the school as a security guard. After the game resumes, Birdie watches as Kyle's ball hogging costs the Panthers the win. After Motaw, who chews out Bugaloo, tries convince Birdie to leave but Bugaloo tries to get Birdie to think about allowing Kyle to play for Birdmen. Although Birdie then scolds Bugaloo for telling him how to run his business, Birdie is still impressed by how well Kyle plays basketball, then orders to bring Kyle to his nightclub later. At Birdie's nightclub, Birdie and Motaw are properly introduced to Kyle. Birdie complements on how well Kyle played in the game, Kyle agrees with him as he feels his coach did not give the credit he deserved. Birdie then shows around his nightclub, until they meet a man who tells Kyle about how knows some colleges who want him to for them, Birdie then tells Kyle about all he could give to him if he starts playing basketball for him in the Shoot-Out, the local neighborhood basketball competition. Although Kyle turns him down as he playing for his coach, Birdie tells to think about it.

The next day, at the cemetery where his deceased mother has been buried Birdie finds his older brother there, and comforts him about their mother's death. Birdie then offers Shep a chance to part of his criminal organization, but Shep refuses, which angers Birdie.

The next day, Birdie confronts on his brother to work to say good morning to Shep, he reminds his brother about his best friend Nutso and their mother, telling Shep that he is the only family he has left. When Kyle, who has chosen to play basketball for Birdie's team, picks a fight with Flip Johnson, a homeless man and crack addict who used to play basketball with Shep in high school, Birdie and Motaw come along and stop Kyle. When Flip disrespects Birdie Motaw threatens him, but Kyle stops him. Flip then reveals to Kyle that Shep is Birdie's brother. When Kyle asks Birdie about this, Birdie tells that he doesn't care about his brother. After Kyle leaves Birdie then decides to kill Filp, with Motaw. Later that night during one of Kyle's basketball games, Birdie and Motaw confront Flip and kill him. Later on Shep decides to leave town, Birdie finds him pretending to basketball, Birdie then wishes goodbye to his brother.

At Birdie's nightclub, he proudly introduces Kyle as new member for the team, and Kyle will help them win the Shoot Out, but then Bugaloo when shows up Birdie reveals to him that he is not playing for the Birdmen and then mocks him, which everyone present, but Kyle, then laughs at Bugaloo.

On the day of the Shoot-Out, when Kyle shows up Birdie scolds for being late. Kyle, after learning Birdie did to Flip, then returns the gifts Birdie gave him and quits the Birdmen, even Birdie that he can't get. Angered, Birdie puts Motaw in Kyle's place and kicks Bugaloo out of his gang. In the Shoot-Out, the Birdmen make it to the finals due to their thuggish play. Before the finals Birdie confronts Kyle, who switched to his old coach's team, the Bombers, who have also made into the finals, wishes him a good game. But Birdie warns Kyle, who has recruited by the Georgetown University Hoyas, by threatening to ruin his chances of playing for the Hoyas by saying he will reveal the gifts Kyle accepted, unless Kyle throws the game and allows the Birdmen to win the Shoot Out.

During the start of game Kyle does play to his full extend, which pleases Birdie. However, Kyle decides rebel against Birdie after the Birdmen hurt his friend Bobby. Kyle starts playing well but, Birdmen injure one of the Bombers, leaving them with one team member short. However Shep shows up decides to play for the Bombers, having been offered a chance to play for the team by the coach earlier. Shep then helps the Bombers win the Shoot Out, much to Birdie's chagrin. Birdie then orders Motaw to kill Kyle. But Shep witnesses this saves Kyle, and although he is wounded, he survives. Later at Birdie's nightclub, he is confronted by a fed-up Bugaloo who shoots him, killing Birdie.


  • Birdie's real name is never revealed in the film.
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