Coach Carter is shown to have played a major role in the lives of his athletes because he is willing to be more than a mere "basketball coach." In being a figure of success in the community, Ken Carter understands that the basic principles of commitment, character, and a sense of maturity are the ingredients needed for finding happiness in life. These are lessons that he embeds within his coaching of basketball. Yet, these are lessons that he actively teaches to his team outside of basketball. For example, the way in which Coach Carter demands that his students adhere to a strict academic code of conduct is a way in which he is able to instill the discipline and dignity in his athletes that enable them to turn their lives around for the better.
While he is met with resistance from them in the initial phases, they relent and understand the importance in the lessons that Coach Carter teaches them. At the same time, these are the very lessons that they pivot to use in developing their own understanding about the world and their place in it. It is through such insistence on "life lessons" where Coach Carter becomes more than just a basketball coach, but rather a coach on life.