10 years earlier - Following a street basketball game, and free-throw practice, orphaned Scott Worley and his baby brother Chris, witness the execution of one bookie by another, followed by threats of "You know what happens to snitches". Testifying landed them in the program as Marshal Mary Shannon's first protectees. Present day finds Scott owning an auto-repair business, and young Chris as a rising basketball star in college. Mary soon discovers that Chris has developed a serious gambling problem and is in thirty-thousand deep with his bookie. Unable to pay the debt, the bookie, Bill Donner, abducts Scott to force Chris to throw a ball game, leaving Mary and Marshall in a race against the clock... the time clock. Jinx gets news that her husband is going to be declared dead. Marshall hooks up with his former teacher's assistant he had in college, who gives him a different type of education.
- Detroit, MI. Ten years ago. After a street basketball game, money changes hands. One of the game's stars tries to school his younger brother Chris on how to shoot free throws. He will give him $20 if he makes 20 free-throws.
The bookie watching earlier raises the stakes, offering $100 that says the kid can't make 10 in a row. The kid doesn't want the pressure - that's their food money for a week. His older brother says it's just like game pressure.
He makes nine. And then..sinks the tenth. The bookie starts to pay up without complaint, complimenting the kid. Three other guys show up. One of them is mad at the bookie for making book on his turf. He shoots him. The second bookie tells the player, Scott, that he owns him now and he knows what happens to snitches, right?
Scott and Chris enter the program.
Present day, Mary takes her piece of crap car to Scott's garage. He talks up his younger brother, who's now a real star at a D-II college. He invites them to the night's game.
They go and Marshall reminisces about his badminton days, just to work the word "shuttlecock" into a conversation. He runs into one of his TA's from college, a hot one.
During the game, Marshall makes eyes with her and leaves the game. In the hall after, a booster congratulates Chris. Chris is happy to see Mary, but he has a question. He needs $3,000 for school supplies. He asks her not to tell his brother.
Mary walks with him to her car and finds Marshall making out with his TA inside, high school style.
Cut to the next day at breakfast. Jinx gets a package and throws it in the trash. Mary fishes out. It's from the FBI. It's notifying her that after 25 years, the bureau is prepared to declare her missing husband dead.
At the office, Mary fills out paperwork in a hopeless attempt to get Chris some money. Stan tells her to quit worrying about witnesses 10 years in. Marshall says they were Mary's first.
Mary goes to visit Scott and learns that he just lent Chris $5,000 in the past few weeks, also for school supplies and using the same line he used on Mary.
She goes to see Chris at school. She calls him out. He says he made a few bad bets on-line, borrowing a friend's credit card. He says everything is under control.
Mary runs into Marshall on campus. "What brings you to these hallowed halls? Boning up on your philosophy? Taking an oral exam? Having sex with your professor?" she quizzes him.
As she teases him she sees two guys roughing up Chris. She runs after them but they drive off. She questions his definition of "under control."
At the office, she grills Chris in front of Scott. He says the guys were from his bookie. Mary says he needs to get help for his gambling problem. He says he doesn't have a problem and promises not to do it again. Scott believes him and pulls out his checkbook. Mary thinks it's a mistake.
Mary returns home to find her mom has been in her pajamas all day. She and Brandi are drinking, going through old family pictures. She asks her mom how she dealt with her dad's gambling. Mostly by drinking, Jinx says. She tried going to a couple of meetings for people who live with gamblers, but she didn't have time for those "whining losers." She says she doesn't want her husband to be dead.
Marshall's out on a date with his TA, rhapsodizing about art. He goes to the bathroom, complimenting his smoothness in the mirror. There's a knock at the door. It's his date. She joins him.
Mary and Scott attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. They start with a prayer and listen to horror stories about people watching their loved ones lose money. Mary listens, stunned, reliving her childhood. She starts crying as a woman talks about the only time she feels alive now is when she's dealing with other people's problems. They say it's important to remember it's not your fault and to let go of the anger. Mary runs out, crying.
In her car later with Scott, they ride in silence back to his garage.
Scott's phone rings. "How much?" he says. It's his bank. Chris changed the amount from $3,000 to $13,000.
Mary tells him to tell the bank to tear up the check. He does.
In his office, Mary helps support Scott while Chris drives up and begs through the closed door. He yells and screams and says the bookies are going to kill him. Mary promises Scott she won't let Chris get hurt.
At the office, Mary checks out Chris' phone records. They go visit the man they think is Chris' bookie. They call it a social visit and want to keep things unofficial. The nice clean-cut man is the booster from the game. He says he and Chris reached an understanding. His debt's forgiven unless the bookie gets arrested, then everyone knows Chris is gambling.
Back at the office, Mary's mad but thinks things might be over. Marshall cites Biff Tannen's gambling in "Back to the Future" (but he really means "Back to the Future II") and explains point-shaving to Mary. If Chris is going to do it, Chris' team would have to lose that night.
They go to visit Chris. Mary tries to warn him off throwing his career away. She says he's experiencing a blip on a radar of his life, unless he does something that turns it into a defining moment. Chris keeps playing things nonchalant. Mary tells him it's time to think about who his real friends are.
During the game, Chris sinks a 3 as Mary keeps an eye out for Scott. Marshall gets a text from the TA, with risky propositions. He's afraid of her adventurousness.
Chris turns the ball over and his defense is weak. Mary calls Scott. Chris misses another bucket. Mary eyes the bookie in the stand. Chris draws a foul and goes to the line to shoot two. He misses the first. Mary's not happy. He bricks the second. Mary's sure something's not right. Halftime. Mary goes to talk to Chris. Marshall calls in Scott's abduction. Mary wants to watch the bookie for the rest of the game and not make a move to tip him off.
At the office, Marshall calls the company where Scott's tracking device in his car is registered.
Chris continues to play horribly. The bookie grins. The coach benches Chris with seven minutes left and his team still losing.
At 3:20, they're still down (the spread is half a point so they just need to lose).
Mary gets a call from Marshall. Scott is safe. Mary gets a message to Chris, who asks to go back in the game.
Mary goes to watch the end of the game with the bookie. Chris leads a ferocious comeback as Mary taunts the bookie with enthusiasm.
With seconds left, Chris draws a foul and goes to shoot two. Mary asks the bookie what the spread is, even though she knows.
Chris nails the first. The game is tied. The second shot hits the rim but Chris gets the rebound and dunks it. They win. The bookie loses. Marshall arrests him.
Scott shows up to hug his brother.
Mary's voice over says that Chris got off with a suspension but will still be eligible to play. As for her own gambling issues, she goes to a Gamblers' Anonymous meeting. She says her first memories are of going to the track with her dad. She says he was a great person, but a serious gambler. Crying, she says he's the reason she is who she is today, for better or worse. He was her whole world and he walked out of her life two days before her seventh birthday.