In the midst of a Chicago summer plagued by violence, a downtown basketball tournament aims for a lofty goal: using sport to promote peace and reclaim streets from gangs and guns.
Jahari Jones is a coach for “Hoops in the Hood -- a program that gets 5,000 kids throughout Chicago playing basketball all summer, culminating with a cross city tournament that shut down Balbo Drive downtown.
“Something as little as this, can mean so much... It's so big,” Jones said.
Over the past 12 summers, 23-thousand kids have taken part in “Hoops in the Hood” and organizers say that means a lot of kids are battling it out on the court, not in the streets.
“Started in Pilsen, they took over some street corners that were hot spots and they put up basketball hoops and stopped the violence. And that happens every week in 15 different neighborhoods,” said Meghan Harte, executive director of LISC Chicago.
Sweating it out on the court teaches the teens team work and leadership. Plus, it gives the teens from South Chicago a needed outlet.
“When I get angry, I play basketball so I can let my feelings go on the court,” said Dante Burford.
“If the community comes together to play basketball, I feel like there's no reason to be out their fighting,” said D’Angelo Cheney.
Some players even cross gang lines to play, turning rivals into team mates and giving neighborhoods a better shot at peace.