St. Sabina to host 2nd Peace Basketball Tournament

September 13, 2013 11:06:25 AM PDT
A basketball tournament that brings together rival gang members to battle it out on the court instead of on the streets will have a second year.

The 2nd Annual Peace Basketball Tournament will take place at St. Sabina's Church gymnasium, 7800 S. Racine, on Saturday, September 21 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Several sports celebrities are involved, including Chicago's Joakim Noah and Epiphanny Prince. http://www.saintsabina.org/.

The first Peace Tournament was held in September 2012, and is credited with helping to curb violence in the neighborhood. Two young men say it changed their lives.

"That's all I knew, that's all I wanted to do. I wasn't thinking positive, my mind was not on track," McGhee said.

"I spent last summer in jail," Porche said.

Just a year later, they're off the streets- and in the gym at St. Sabina's Church. McGhee, Porche and other gang members were recruited by young men like themselves to participate in the Peace Basketball Tournament, a basketball tournament that brings together rival gangs.

"People just thinking they are gang members, when they're really not. They're really, as you can see, really are good guys," Brandon Jackson, St. Sabina Peacemaker, said.

Those good guys chose to leave their gangs for a straight life after their experience with the first annual Peace Basketball Tournament. Father Michael Pfleger said his efforts to save lives through basketball is working.

"We are not saying it's the only thing, but we do know it has worked. In this neighborhood the crime has dropped over 95-percent," Father Pfleger said.

It doesn't end with basketball. In the past year, Pfleger says the more than 1,100 kids who participated in the Peace league have jobs and more than 140 are getting their GEDs.

"Basically, it's been a peaceful thing since the tournament, everybody getting along, shaking hands," Patrick Vance, St. Sabina Peacemaker, said.

Through basketball, Vance helped McGhee and Porche. Now those two former gang members hope to be an example for others.

"I feel better, more comfortable, and relaxed. Now I can walk around with more money, the real money, not the wrong money. It feels good," McGhee said.

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