Nelson Mandela and the True Story Behind 'Invictus'

A look at how the South African leader used the game of Ruby to unite his country.
3:00 | 12/06/13

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Transcript for Nelson Mandela and the True Story Behind 'Invictus'
♪ enjoying so many of the words of the life and times of nelson mandela. Here, we see the greatest glory of living lies, not never falling but in rising every time you fall. And that is from the world of sport. And it helped unite south africa at a critical time for nelson mandela and his people. It was dramatized, in fact, in the 2009 movie, "invictus." And told of when south africa won the world cup and a divided nation came together as one. The year was 1995. And south africa was set to host the rugby world cup, represented by a team made of mostly white players. The polarized social climate still meant that many black south africans cheered against their own team. Whites learn it in school. And blacks learn to hate it. Reporter: Yet another snapshot of nelson mandela, in the wake of apartheid. When mandela began his presidency, leading a still-broken country, struggling to become whole. A struggle immortalized on the big screen in the film, "invictus." This is a time to build our nation. Reporter: And with his country's national pastime large, mandela helped his nation move on from a past history of violence, separatism and hatred. From south africa, something to cheer about. To announce it overnight like that, it is a miracle. To come together. To unify against -- for something. It's just unbelievable. Absolutely. Reporter: Mandela met with the team captain, played in a movie by matt damon. And so, helped to spur a team to embrace a united south africa, one team for all. It's like a dream world. Living white and black. I'm happy about this. Reporter: Morgan freeman, who was hand-picked by mandela to portray him in the film, says that after studying the civil rights icon for years, freeman's most difficult task was properly executing mandela's voice. On behalf of our rainbow nation, I welcome you all. Your country supports you completely. Reporter: And a team that once stood for an oppressive minority, came to stand for all south africans, white and black. I want to thank you for what you have done for our country. Thank you for what you've done for our country. Reporter: As the team's victory parade moved through the streets of johannesburg, the banner they displayed said it all. One team, one country. Of course, morgan freeman, deeply moved in portraying the man had this to say about the passing of his hero. Nelson mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve, a saint to many. A hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. Madiba may no longer be with us. But this journey continues on with me and with all of us. And as something of a bookend to this story, interestingly, 15 years later, south africa would host the world cup. First major sporting event of its kind hosted on that continent. It was the last time the world could see nelson mandela make a public appearance. Of course, robin. I remember being there. It was very, very powerful. Going back to the movie for a moment. It's based on the poem that happened to be nelson mandela's favorite. And when he put on that rugby jersey, that was huge. That sent the strongest signal about reconciliation and forgiveness for the people. And to see black and white celebrating, as we heard in the piece. You see. It was something to behold. It has always been something, from these moments to jackie robinson breaking the color barrier here in america. Sport, such a unifier. And such a good place for pioneers.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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