PEACE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT BRINGS STARS, LOCAL GANGS TOGETHER AT ST. SABINA
Celebrities, pro athletes and local gang members hit the basketball court on Saturday for the fifth annual Peace Basketball Tournament at St. Sabina Church in the city’s Gresham neighborhood.
The tournament aims to promote peace over gun violence, said Fr. Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina.
On Saturday, neighborhood rivals were teammates. Players included rival gang members of five neighborhood factions.
“Basketball’s a hook, basketball is a relationship builder, but it’s bigger than basketball. It’s about jobs. It’s about education,” Pfleger said.
Among the luminaries at the tournament was ‘Chiraq’ director Spike Lee, retired NBA players Mark Anthony Aguirre and Isaiah Thomas.
Teens and young men made up the opposing teams.
“If you see somebody in the ‘hood, give ’em a pass. If you can give them a pass on the court, you can get them on the streets,” one player told the group.
The tournament comes as gang and gun violence continues to plague the city.
Chicago native and Milwaukee Bucks player Jabari Parker was one of Saturday’s volunteers and even played in the game.
“A little bit makes a difference. Three hours is a lot to do something positive. It’s three hours away from crime. Three hours away from un-productivity,” Parker said.
Organizers hope that finding common ground on the basketball court could spark change in the streets.
“We’ve got to get the city back. We’ve got to get the city back right and this peace tournament is going to do it,” player Nikko Robertson said.