Joakim Noah was front and center at the 2nd Annual Peace Tournament held at St. Sabina Church on Chicago's South Side over the weekend.
Chicago’s reputation for gun violence isn’t lost on anyone, least of all the residents of the city who live in neighborhoods where shootings are most likely to occur. From 13 people being shot in a neighborhood park -- including a three-year-old boy -- to military style weapons being used on a "Safe Passage" route, gun crimes are a daily reality for many.
The 2nd Annual Peace Tournament took place over the weekend at St. Sabina Church on the South side, and just like he did last year, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah came out to show his support and let everyone know that he’s committed to helping out in the community any way that he can.
"This tournament is probably one of the more powerful things I’ve done in my career," Noah said to CSN Chicago. "I’m happy to be able to do this. I brought my mother, all of my friends from New York, because I think that this is something important."
Noah was once again joined by his Bulls teammates Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose who came out to the inaugural event last fall, but also by Randy Brown -- who was promoted to Assistant GM with the Bulls -- former Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas, current Pistons guard Will Bynum, and NBA referee Danny Crawford.
“It’s definitely important to give kids some kind of hope. It’s so much going on in the City of Chicago, and me being an inner-city kid, and actually walking the territories and knowing different guys on different corners, on different streets, in different gangs, I know exactly how it is out here. And it’s tough. So putting together an event like this was something I had to be a part of,” Bynum said.
And while Will Bynum loves the city because this is where he comes from, Noah, a native New Yorker, in his time here has come to love Chicago as well and genuinely cares about the safety issues that kids battle daily.
“I love Chicago. There’s a lot of things in Chicago that are really hard. The gun violence is out of control and I just want to help,” he said. “The accessibility to guns is just crazy. How are kids running around with this heavy machinery that you use at war, and guys have access to that? It’s out of control and we have to do something about it.”