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50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 28th Ward’s Tyrone Hymon, paroled ex-basketball star, looks for a break

In the 28th ward, Tyrone Hymon just needs to get through the next few months. “Well, right now I ain’t doing too much. Trying to look for a job myself right now.”

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50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 28th Ward’s Tyrone Hymon, paroled ex-basketball star, looks for a break

Tyrone Hymon says he’s looking for a job, but his criminal record stands in the way.

WBEZ/Sam Hudzik

Tyrone Hymon just needs to get through the next few months.

“Well, right now I ain’t doing too much. Trying to look for a job myself right now,” Hymon says, leaning against a building near Madison and Kedzie. “Because I’m on parole. And I’ve been on parole three years. I get off in November, so I been doing alright. Trying to stay out of trouble, trying to stay out of that place.”

The job search is complicated because of Hymon’s criminal record. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, the 44-year-old has a string of prison stints going back to the early ‘90s. Drugs, drug dealing, firearm possession.

Hymon says employers want nothing to do with anyone with a record.

“I got an X on my back,” he says.

Hymon was a high school basketball star at Crane Tech in the ‘80s. He’s all over the prep sports archive of the Chicago Tribune. He got a college scholarship, he says, to play ball in Texas.

“A lot of guys didn’t make it [to the pros]. A lot of guys did made it,” he said. “Some of my friends made it, went to the NBA, that I played with.”

He didn’t make it and returned to Chicago.

“Got into the fast life, slipped up, made bad choices. Made bad decisions. That’s all.”

And now he’s looking for a break.

“Big break. No matter what it is. I’ll settle for a little thing. McDonald’s job, anything. Just stay focused and stay out of trouble. You know, keep me off the streets.”

Hymon has mostly good things to say about local politicians. They’re trying to clean up vacant lots and attract business to the area.

It’s too early, he says, to say how well rookie Mayor Rahm Emanuel is doing.

“He really just got in there,” Hymon says. “The only thing I can say, he definitely got a lot of police out here, doing what they supposed to do, a little bit more than what it was.”

This neighborhood, East Garfield Park, is better than it used to be, he says.

“Well, it was kind of rough, wild,” Hymon says. “You know, people doing stuff ordinarily they ain’t supposed to be doing: robbing, stealing, snatching and all the other stuff they was doing. You know, it got better now. A lot better.”

“You know, it was real bad. But a lot of guys now – you see, there’s like a lot of police out here now – doing what they supposed to do – so a lot of things are slowed up.”

As he keeps his eye on November, slowed up is probably just what Hymon needs from his neighborhood.

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