In Chicago, Hoops Tournament Helps Heal, Provides Hope

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NBA

Almost three years ago, I joined Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church on his weekly community walk on the South Side of Chicago. Father Pfleger is a long-time family friend and activist in the Chicago community. He and my mother bonded years earlier in their fight for the poor and the disenfranchised in society. When I joined the walk that hot summer evening, Chicago was being projected as the murder capital of America. As we walked the streets, young men and women were coming from everywhere to greet us. Some joined us on the walk and others just watched and waved. As we continued to talk to the young men and some of the community leaders, I posed this question: If Father Pfleger and I brought you together for a game of basketball promoting peace would you show up? The immediate response was yes.
The question was the seedling of an idea. Our goal was ambitious. We wanted to give the young men a chance to get to know each other on and off the court. If we could bring them together, along with the community, around a game of basketball, we could break down some of the territorial barriers that have been created by simply not knowing your neighbor.
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