More than 400 kids compete in 'Hoops in the Hood' tournament in downtown Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago was transformed into a giant basketball court Saturday for more than 400 kids from 22 different neighborhoods.

Thirty-six teams competed in the "Hoops in the Hood" tournament for prizes and bragging rights.

The program organized by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago sets out to reclaim the streets and promote peace.

"So the importance of this is one that addresses violence and communities and it keeps kids active in communities," said Meghan Harte of LISC Chicago. "Down here, it gives the kids a sense that all of Chicago is behind them because they're right down on a street in Chicago playing basketball."

Members of Chicago's women's professional basketball team also came to root the teams on.

"The game of basketball does an amazing job of bringing all different types of people together and this is just a perfect display of that," said Diamond DeShields, a guard for the Chicago Sky.

Every year, hundreds of athletes between the ages of 8 and 19 play in their summer-long leagues that blend street basketball with other recreational activities. It all leads up to the tournament held this weekend.

"I think it's important because it our kids out of the street. It's something that they look for to," said Lorena Leon, a mother of one of the players. "They get to know other people with in the community that maybe they wouldn't have the opportunity to do so."

Leon's daughter, Briana, said the program keeps kids safe.

"It gets them more involved in basketball and school," she said.
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