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Jennifer Hudson talks about Balfour sentencing, growing up in Englewood

August 14, 2012 8:27:41 PM PDT
Oscar winning actress Jennifer Hudson is helping disadvantaged kids get ready for the school year as tribute to her beloved nephew, Julian King.

Julian, who would have turned 11 Tuesday, was killed almost four years ago. Hudson's mother and brother were also killed. Their murderer, who was married to Hudson's sister, Julia, is now serving life in prison.

"At first I was like I don't know if I could ever go back to Chicago but it's home and after I had my son I was like he should have that base to be surrounded around family," Hudson said.

Hudson and 50 relatives gathered at The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center on the South Side for the second annual Julian King "Hatch Day". Five thousand kids received free supplies that their parents can't afford. Julian loved school - and thought of it as his future about to "hatch."

"Last year, a man said it was either paying his rent or buying school supplies for his kids and this made all the difference," Hudson said. "We know very much of what it's like of having a single parent . . . my mother had three children and having to send all of us to school. We only had two outfits, right? Two outfits when school started."

There's finally some closure for Hudson's family. Hudson's former brother in law, William Balfour convicted in May for the 2008 murders of her mother, nephew and brother. Last month, Balfour was sentenced to life behind bars.

"Oh my God, definitely. It's like a new beginning and it's overwhelming. As soon as I walked in here the tears started flowing. It's happy tears. We're celebrating Julian. It's his birthday, we see the celebration on the children's faces and that's healing for us," Hudson said, getting emotional. "I'm not gonna cry."

Hudson and her sister wear necklaces with photos of their mother, brother and Julian.

"Like my mother always told us, without family you have nothing and so, remembering all those things and like she said, they're always with you -- whether they're here in the physical or not, they are with you," Hudson said.

Hudson said she enjoys seeing the kids as they get ready to go back to school.

"To be able to help tell the kids, 'If I did it, you can do it, too,'" she said. "Englewood has a lot of issues and I want the kids to know good comes from there as well."

Hudson said her favorite part of going back to school was music class.

She also said she's about to start a new movie with fellow Chicagoan and filmmaker George Tillman.


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