Isaiah Thomas Hoops It Up In Old Neighborhood

Former NBA star returns to West Side to tout Windy City Hoops program

By Natalie Martinez
|  Friday, Jul 12, 2013  |  Updated 11:32 PM CDT
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Former NBA star returns to neighborhood with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to tout Windy City Hoops program.

Natalie Martinez

Former NBA star returns to neighborhood with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to tout Windy City Hoops program.

Hall of Fame basketball star Isaiah Thomas was back in his old neighborhood Friday preaching a message of peace.

Thomas, who's from the city's West Side, visited a Windy City Hoops basketball night at Kennicot Park, the old playground where he honed his skills.

The program was devised five months ago to bring positive change for kids who could potentially become involved in drugs or violence.

"That violence didn't start overnight, and we're not going to end it overnight," Thomas said. We hear about the violence that occurs, but we never hear about the violence that was stopped."

The program is a pet project of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. There's 11 programs in the city so far, but Emanuel says even if there were 30, it would barely scratch the demand for what's needed.

"Every one of them, you asked them where they would be, they say out on the streets," Emanuel said. They've got coaches, they've got referees, they've got timekeepers, they've got the commander for the district and other police officers, they have their parents here, it is a safe, safe where kids are going to be mentored."

Thomas' visit proved so popular, the capacity had to be expanded for 140 attendees instead of the planned 80.

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