Mayor Rahm Emanuel found a lot more than a good basketball game on a recent night on Chicago's West Side.
Emanuel was checking out the first Friday for a new league called Windy City Hoops, a program put in place to prevent violence and keep teenagers busy. But it’s the young man he met by chance that has the mayor talking.
Emanuel told the story at a fundraiser this week with civic leaders he hopes will help raise $50 million for more programs for at-risk teens. He said he met 16-year-old Martell Cowan at the game and asked him how he found out about the new league.
“It’s the hottest thing going on in the West Side, everybody’s talking about it," the teen told the mayor. Emanuel was so impressed with Martell, who happens to be a junior at Urban Prep Academy, that the mayor asked his staff for his stationary and wrote Martell’s mother a note saying “Martell is really mature.”
But, that’s not all.
It turns out, the mayor and Cowan were leaving the gym at the same time, so Emanuel offered Cowan a ride home.
“Martell just came from a basketball game," Emanuel explains. "Now he’s in the car with the mayor. He directs the police on where to go, we drive six or seven blocks over. We drive, come to his house on a side street on the city of Chicago. He’s about to get out, 16 years old, about to get out of the car, Friday night, he’s just won a basketball game, he’s just about to get out of the car, he leans over, grabs my wrist and says 'Mr. Mayor, may you have a blessed evening.'
"Here I am, I’ve got four Chicago cops, two SUVs. This kid is wishing me, may you have a blessed evening. We have great kids in the city of Chicago.”