Basketball tournament hoping to stop the violence

September 21, 2013 7:19:29 PM PDT
Bulls stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by a special basketball tournament bringing factions of the community together to make peace on the streets.

This basketball gathering was scheduled before 13 people were shot on a basketball court in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, so the event coincided with the city's attempt to cope and respond to a new level of gun violence.

Saturday, neighborhood rivals are teammates as the Peace Basketball Tournament once again took the floor of St. Sabina's Church gymnasium.

Several dozen teens and young men brought together to battle it out on the court. The teams include rival gang members of six neighborhood factions.

Father Michael Pfleger says it's effort to stop the violence on the streets.

"We are very going to end violence by just locking people up, and we'll never end violence by just playing basketball. We're going to end violence by taking them in the basketball courts, giving them jobs, getting them back in school," he said.

The second year of the tournament comes after gang violence leaves 13 people, including a 3-year-old, wounded in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

"I love this city and I think it's just important to just show there's a serious issue with the violence," Noah said.

Emanuel threw the tip off to start the tournament's second game.

"I'm proud of what Father Pfleger has done. All the athletes that are here, the coaches that are here, but most important the parents that are here and to support them," Emanuel said.

Basketball Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas was one of Saturday's volunteers.

"Once you get involved, once you put on a uniform, once you put on a jersey, once you start getting to know each other as people, as human beings, as brothers and sisters caring and loving one another, that's really what our message is all about," Thomas said.

Organizers hope to change perspectives by finding common ground on the basketball court.


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