It seems that everyday a little bit of this generation’s future is being stolen away.
Young athletes walking the streets of Chicago are seeing their opportunity of playing at a college and receiving an education, disappear. “Chiraq” is the new nickname the Windy City has been given.
The shootings of this past summer have not dwindled even though the schools are finally opened. The killings have continued and the mass murder of our generation has not stopped.
Too many athletes leave their hometown and don’t look back. The reality is that without some guidance and support from those whom the kids look up to, there will be no change.
Chicago Bulls players recently teamed up with Quentin Richardson and Isiah Thomas for the Peace Tournament. The goal was to get rival gang members off the street, play a game of basketball, and hopefully open some eyes.
The young men on the court had shot at each other and tried to kill each other at some point over territory. Saturday, they got along.
This past summer Michael Haynes, 22 and native to the south side,, tried to break up a fight between some of his neighbors and was shot three times by a man he had known all his life.
Over a necklace, Michael left his family and his dreams of not only becoming a NBA basketball player, but to get his brothers and grandma out of the place he made a name for himself while playing in high school.
Michael died five days before he was to leave for Iona College in New York, where he was to fill the expectations of his coaches to make it to the league.
Dajae Coleman, a freshman at Evanston High School was shot this past Saturday leaving a party with a group of friends. Dajae was a popular kid according to reports, and all his focus was on basketball. Earlier that day, he was putting in work at the gym while helping out players in the grades below him. A couple hours later, he was lying on a sidewalk fighting for his life.
Fourteen years old and his dreams were over. At fourteen years old most kids are focusing on what homework they have to get done to pass their freshman year of high school. In “Chiraq,” these kids are just trying to survive walking down the block.
Sports have become a way for young men and women in crime-ridden areas to get out. It may look to an outsider that getting to the league and making money is the only goal for some of these kids.
Playing basketball and being good at it is only half the plan. The real reason these kids practice and focus and give the sport everything their worth is because it is a way to get the ones that they love away from the only life they’ve ever known.
Those who are a part of this newly dubbed “Chiraq,” by choice or by force, have been forgotten. It seems that people choose to ignore what is happening rather than help those who have no option but to fight for their lives.
If basketball is what could have gotten young athletes like Dajae and Michael out of a place where they fear for their life was real, maybe sport is what can bring peace back to it.
We should at least try for Dajae and Michael, and all the others who never got the chance.