CHICAGO - There was a big celebration Friday at Orr Academy High School in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood after the boys' basketball team overcame big odds to win the state championship.
The Spartans routed Mount Carmel, for the 2A title. And that was despite enrollment being down to about 400 students at Orr academy.
The school is located right in the middle of the police district with the highest murder rate.
Orr Academy's boys' basketball team made a grand entrance at a school pep rally Friday afternoon.
"We want to support our kids. We want them to know we are behind them," Shanele Andrews, school principal, said.
The Spartans won the Class 2A State Championship last week and defeated downstate Mount Carmel and brought home the school's first title in any sport.
"I was speechless. A lot of people ran on the floor to celebrate with us. We took a lot of pictures," Samuel Williams, the team's forward, said.
"When we won the state title, I couldn't do nothing but just hug my brothers after we won because we battled for this," Emanuel O'Neal, the team's guard, said.
The win represents more than just hard work and skill on the court. Perhaps what is most remarkable is what the players have had to endure off the court to get there.
Nearly 98 percent of the students at Orr come from low-income families.
Orr is in the 11th Police District and last year there were 93 murders, more than any other district in the city.
"I have a lot of experience with friends, family, just being outside at the wrong place at the wrong time," O'Neal said.
For these players, their coach doesn't just guide them in basketball he gives them skills they can use for life.
"He like a father figure. He really loves us. And most of us on his team don't have a father," O'Neal said.
"We work very hard at this school on the court and off the court. It's family. Those 12 boys are like my sons," Louis Adams, the coach, said.