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West Side basketball tournament looks to provide hope for inner city youth

Young men from troubled Chicago neighborhoods played in a basketball tournament focused on helping youth stay off the streets.

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West Side basketball tournament looks to provide hope for inner city youth

WBEZ/Jewell Washington

(WBEZ/Jewell Washington)

Chicago police said at least 13 young people were shot in roughly 30 minutes during a drive-by shooting on the South Side Thursday night. Those wounded ranged from ages 14-20.

On Friday, young men from some of those same troubled neighborhoods met up at a West Side basketball gym. They played in a tournament focused on helping youth stay off the streets. WBEZ dropped by to ask them what city leaders need to do to reduce the violence.

“It’s not as hard as people think to stop the violence,” tournament coach Sean Thornton said, “it just really takes one person to say ‘I’m gonna do something different.’”

Thornton hoped to lead his team, comprised of about 10 at-risk youths from the South and West sides, to tournament victory.

“I think we need to get more men involved, have more functions such as this,” said Mike Berry, another team mentor. “It’s a lot of kids growing up in single-parent households that don’t necessarily have the mentoring or anyone to show them the love.”

Sports the Business, a community mentoring program, helped to tip off the event. It said its goal is to cultivate and help youth make well-informed decisions. It also hopes to remove a spirit of fear and frustration through sports and elevate the thinking of Chicago’s inner city youth, according to its website.

Jaylon Tate, 17, said playing basketball is something that he and his friends love to do. He also said city leaders should continue to help organize positive events to keep youth off the streets.

“It’s sad to hear that people are out here killing each other...knowing that people are losing their lives over nothing,” he said.

Nearly 100 youth ranging from ages 16 to 20 are participating in the two-day tournament.

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