Celebrities Step Up To Stop Chicago Violence

It was a scene reminiscent of the 2006 film, Gridiron Gang.

LaChelle Sanders (left) speaks with Fr. Pfleger
Last Saturday, rival gang members in Chicago's violent Auburn-Gresham neighborhood put down their guns and picked up basketballs for "The Peace Tournament" held at St. Sabina Church's gymnasium.

For a change, the only hand signals on the court were given by referees.

And there were some very notable faces in the crowd.  

Actress/singer Drew Sidora, activist Ameena Forte-Matthews and several  current and former NBA players came out to show their support--including Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose.

Rose spoke to the gang members about finding more peaceful alternatives--such as basketball--instead of making violent (and sometimes irreversible) decisions. He was joined by another Chicago native, Orlando Magic small forward Quentin Richardson. 

The same Rose who had been seen flashing gang signs years back, built a rapport with the young men--according to a Zack's TV source. 

In addition to Rose and Richardson, other current and former stars including Isiah Thomas made a pledge to continue to work with young people in the neighborhood.  

Olatunji Oboi Reed in Brazil (courtesy of Facebook)

Olatunji Reed, a research assistant in social affairs, supports what the athletes are doing. 

"We need more athletes and entertainers taking an active role in improving the conditions of our community," the 38-year-old Roosevelt University student said.  "They have incredible resources that can be put to use in our communities."

During the summer, Reed studied social affairs in Brazil--where he observed racism, health care disparities and poverty. For him, human suffering is not limited to the urban ghettos of America. But he clarified that elite American entertainers should still do their part. 

"They have an important voice that we need to hear in our communities," he said. 

"I would love to see them do more." 

~ Zack The Producer

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  1. Kudos to Fr. Michael, Ms. Sanders, and the officiating crew, security (Black Muslim brothers, police officers), parents, spectators, and basketball stars who worked together to bring the neighborhood teams to a safe venue to learn to build healthy friendships. Thanks. William L. Conwill

  2. wow, Brother Zack, you do not play! good work sir, thanks for the voice and congrats on your beautiful words. i love the article. keep rockin!!!