Windy City Hoops basketball program expanding; Mayor Emanuel and Isiah Thomas make announcement on Windy City LIVE

February 19, 2013 2:32:09 PM PST
It's another tool to stop gun violence on Chicago's streets: Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday morning on ABC 7's Windy City LIVE that the Windy City Hoops basketball program is expanding.

The hope is that kids will get off the streets and into a positive environment.

The mayor was joined on WCL by NBA Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas, who will head up the program.

"We've assembled an effort to put across the city, in 10 separate locations, 800 kids, 3,000 throughout the year, at-risk kids, Friday and Saturday night, having a basketball league for those kids," said Mayor Emanuel.

This plays off other efforts in recent months to use basketball as a magnet to bring together neighborhood kids.

Chicago Bulls players Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were also involved in those earlier games. The hope is that gang disputes can be diffused before they turn violent and young people will get positive mentoring from adults they respect.

"I believe that if you arm these kids with the proper information, they will make the right decisions," Thomas said.

But, the mayor admits, this is just one part of trying to solve Chicago's violence.

"Tougher gun laws, tougher penalties, better policing, more economic investment in the neighborhoods, better mentoring, basketball programs," said Mayor Emanuel. "This is all of us stepping in and knowing there's a way to give these kids a proper alternative."

"When I look at those kids, I don't see criminals, I don't see gangbangers," said Thomas. "I see kids that want an opportunity."

That opportunity might start with a basketball game -- and lead to a better future.

On another matter, the mayor was asked about a different opportunity for him: Will he run for the White House in 2016?

"Absolutely not," said Emanuel. "100 percent not doing it."

The 10 parks are spread across eight community areas and were chosen according to high crime levels, low median income, and regional influence of the park facility:

  • Pottowottomie (Rogers Park)
  • Amundsen (Austin)
  • Columbus (Austin)
  • Garfield (East Garfield)
  • Franklin (North Lawndale)
  • Kennicott (Kenwood)
  • Jackson (Woodlawn)
  • Ogden (Englewood)
  • Hamilton (Englewood)
  • Fernwood (Roseland)

The mayor is urging all Chicago residents to help fund the program by making a donation at