One City Basketball Celebrates First League Championship

Violence reduction, youth-centered basketball league to host final games; commemorate League success


On Saturday, the One City Basketball League celebrated the culmination of its season with a grand championship at 167 Green St. Events.

Across a span of four months, the league showcased 28 teams comprising youths ages 16-25 from Chicago’s South and West sides. Through a series of nine game days encompassing well over 100 individual matchups, the culmination arrived today in the form of the ultimate championship showdown. This momentous event brought together community advocates, family members, elected officials and the visionary league founders. They all came together to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the dedicated players.

In the end, the South Side Contextos won the championship, but the purpose of the One City Basketball League resonates beyond the court.

“Basketball is so much more than just a game. It’s a unifier and a way for people to connect with each other on another level,” said Joakim Noah, Co-Founder of Noah’s Arc Foundation. “I’ve been passionate about violence interruption for years and I know that this is what it’s all about – meeting people where they are and providing them with the tools they need to succeed. We all have a role to play in addressing the city’s challenges, and I’m humbled to stand alongside our partners who are leading this work on the ground every day.”

Initiated under the leadership of the Noah’s Arc Foundation, the One City Basketball League is a collaborative effort involving Transform Justice and 28 additional community-based organizations that provides financially incentivized programs to participants including various workshops, such as group discussions, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and art-based therapy.

Through these programs, coaches and coordinators diligently instilled the league’s distinct approach to violence interruption. This approach revolves around harnessing the unifying power of basketball to foster inter-community relationships among the participants.

“I am proud of each and every individual player that has put their all — physically, emotionally, and mentally, into this season,” said Cobe Williams, Director of National Programs for Cure Violence Global. “This league is more than just basketball, it has become a safe, supportive space where young people can empower themselves, set themselves up for success in the future, and feel loved by their community. I look forward to continuing this work in the months and years to come.” 

At the end of the season, One City Basketball League participants were given a survey. In that survey, an overwhelming majority of players reported that they felt safe, supported and had positive experiences with staff and coaches, saying they would return to the league for another season.

While the inaugural season has ended, the One City Basketball League’s co-founders and partners are preparing to continue operations during the winter period. Moreover, the valuable relationships fostered among the participants throughout the league’s duration will receive steadfast reinforcement through follow-up programming and dedicated mentorship efforts.

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