Local News

Players accusing semi-pro team of cheating them out of money

Chicago basketball players are accusing their semi-pro team, The Chicago Steam, of not following through on promises and are demanding their money back.

The team’s owner says the team is well regarded with some players eventually going overseas for larger contracts.  The team has hosted youth camps to help Chicago neighborhoods and is affiliated with the American Basketball Association.

But the league doesn’t oversee the team’s finances.  Some players say they were cheated and paid hundreds of dollars for trips that never happened.

Andrea Bankhead, who was on the women’s team, filed a civil suit and is waiting for a hearing.  For two years, she’s been owed about a thousand dollars for a trip to Spain she paid for but never happened.  Joanna Ortiz says she’s still owed $500 dollars.  At one point, she was given this check.  She says she tried to cash it but no funds.  Nichole Silmon paid at least $250 dollars for a scout camp.  She says scouts were never there.

Owner Ron Hicks the players criticizing him are disgruntled over being cut from the Steam.  Through a spokesperson, he sent WGN a statement that reads ” Competitive basketball in the ABA requires talent and perseverance. The Chicago Steam is open and eager to talk with any player or coach that feels he or she has received unfair treatment.”

The ABA says it didn’t know about any of these issues.  They were aware though of one other complaint a few years back.  A player, again, owed money for a trip that never happened.  They plan to look into all of the allegations and say although the team “appears” to run well and Hicks should be held accountable.


37 Comments to “Players accusing semi-pro team of cheating them out of money”

    freddenham said:
    March 8, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    before I saw the check of $4643, I didnt believe that…my… neighbours mother was realie making money part time from there pretty old laptop.. there uncle had bean doing this 4 less than 22 months and by now took care of the morgage on their house and purchased a top of the range Peugeot 205 GTi. I went here,………….. BIT40. ℂOℳ

      Spam_Sniper said:
      March 8, 2013 at 3:49 AM

      You can't spell worth a crap virus boy.

        pagan69 said:
        March 8, 2013 at 7:17 AM

        Who even talks like that? "top of the range"

    pagan69 said:
    March 8, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    Now back the article, Just another Man stealing from his People. Sue the crap out of him, Remember only politicians are allowed to steal from you in Chicago.

    S paw said:
    March 8, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Great story please contact me regarding this
    I work for a Sports Management firm that represents Pro Basketball Players
    The guy who runs this league is the biggest crook of all

      Lourdes said:
      March 8, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      E-mail me at the station with your information lduarte@tribune.com

        guest said:
        March 12, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        Ron Hicks feeds off the players dreams to make it to professional basketball. Most players were not even good enough to make their High School basketball team. He and Kayce Ataiyero, th eteams part owner, and also (Press Secretary at Govenor Quinn's) only went to China in 2010. However continue to take $750 from players and families and have not received an Invite from any Chinese basketball association. In basketball Chinese pro leagues pay the 2nd most competitve salary behind U.S Market(NBA)

      Adam said:
      March 10, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      look me up on Facebook lets chat. Adam Chrisco

      Adam said:
      March 16, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      S paw please contact me @ adamchrisco15@gmail.com

      Adrienne said:
      March 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      Would you consider representing some AND 1 Players who have a similar situation but the story? If so, email me at: editor.swaggirl@gmail.com my name is Adrienne and I manage one of the leading pioneers.

    keeping real said:
    March 8, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    feel bad for those ladies, hope they get their money and contact state att. good luck!!

    ChicagoHoops said:
    March 10, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    I sure hope Ron Hicks, owner of the Chicago Steam and Lady Steam, is made to pay for all the young men and women whose hopes and dreams he has stolen. He's been banking on the fact that for a thousand dollars or less, these players won't come after him. And anyone who has come close to the truth he fires or says that they are disgruntled.

      Truth-B-Told said:
      March 10, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Good point ChicagoHoops. An appearance at the courthouse alone is $176, and Ron Hicks has paid a few of those defending himself. So if Hicks and company takes you for $1100, you would easily spend that just on attorney fees trying to get it back, so why bother? And Hicks knows this and works it to his advantage.

      And what a great job by Lourdes Duarte to bring this to light. The young lady from the women's team and the 2 young men (including the social media guy) that came forward did a service to society. Ron Hick's hustle is hopefully over.

      But I wouldn't stop there. There are a couple of ladies who he has helping him out. One is his the team's financial manager, Kaycee Ataiyero (see link http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/people-issue…. And the other is Beverly Echols, a former principal.

        Truth-B-Told said:
        March 11, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        Correction: The link to the Reader article about Kaycee Ataiyero, the Chicago Steam's financial manager is: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/people-issue

        I'm only pointing out that she has been and is the team's financial manager, so if she is clean, she needs to speak out about Hicks.

    Kayster said:
    March 11, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    Ron Hicks is full of S**T.
    Those players werent disgruntled cuts from the team, both players started for him the whole season! BOTH were division 1 athletes while in college.
    These are only two of the players who were tricked into giving him over a thousand dollars a piece. There are a handful more players from the same season who could afford the hefty price for the supposed "overseas scout camp" he offered. I cant imagine how many seasons pervious this has happened.
    I was a witness to the check. According to the 24 hour currency where the check was to be cashed, the bank account and routing number DID NOT EXIST, but had the Steam information in the top left corner.

    I hope all the players tricked out of their money can sue the pants off of Ron Hicks, and the organization, out of everything that man owns! I feel sorry for the horrible name and reputation the ABA is getting having this man "run" this team.
    It's disgusting.

    Dave said:
    March 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    If you want a story about the ABA, just go to our sports central.com and look at the ABA, it looks like a scam, but whats interesting is that the NBA is possible backing this. This is my opinion. A good reporter will find out the truth and see a league that has had over 200 teams fail but one man, the ABA CEO make tons of money.

    guest said:
    March 12, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Govenor Quinn, be careful who you hire- your press secretary Kayce Ataiyero is in on the greed act as well.

    Jason said:
    March 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    A similar story is apparently unfolding with the Chicago Soul indoor soccer team, where their owner is being accused of non-payment and other, let's say, non-traditional accounting methods. You should look into that, too.

    Adam said:
    March 16, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I got a threatening phone call from Ron Hicks only a few hours after i talked to WGN. Proof in my mind that he is scared and knows hes been exposed. i didnt bother to respond to his threat so sue me because that would never happen and he owes me money so it would just pay for the counter suit and i dont want to waste anymore time with that corrupt shitshow

    Jonathan said:
    April 26, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    I had email him to tryout and he told me come to the meeting and he offer a contract, to me it sound good but it also sound bad because he haven't even seen me play. Now I see this news make me more not interested in playing for him i know there others semi pro leagues that can help reach my goals and support my family

    Truth-B-Told said:
    April 27, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Jonathan, of course he will offer you a contract, because in that contract, YOU pay HIM to play on the team. Did Hicks happen to tell you that little gem? That's step 1 of the scam. And honestly, you could be 300 lbs and on a ventilator, and he would still give you a contract, because it's money in his pocket, not yours. He'll claim to offer you "exposure," and that's where he begins to milk you. You pay for trips that don't happen; you sell (mandatory) tickets for games that get magically cancelled. Get the picture? If you got game, get yourself some legitimate representation and stay away from this penny hustler, Ron Hicks, & his sidekick, Kayce Ataiyero, because before you know it, you'll be out a few thousand dollars wondering how you're gonna get it back.

      Jonathan said:
      May 10, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      thank I will do that if you know any semi pro leagues please let me know

    Basketball Mom said:
    May 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    WOW….I am so glad I read this post. My son is 14 y/o and I have been told to get him showcased on an AAU team so he can play in college. I found this team that was easy for my son's dad to get to, but it seemed very disorganized so I did not sign him up. THANK GOD!!! Ron Hicks randomly emails me here & there, very unprofessional. Its a shame that young African American players are being taken advantage of like this!! smh

    Truth-B-Told said:
    May 28, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    You just saved yourself 100's of $ and headaches. Yes, I would highly recommend you stay clear of the Chicago Steam. Ron Hicks has a few operatives close to him that have kept the illusion going. I see that he recently added video clips of a trip to China from 2010 to his website. But it's the money he took from players for the 2012 trip (and others) that never happened. Anyone in his organization or on the team who uncovers his lies is treated to a discrediting campaign by him and is let go. Then, unsuspecting teammates are told not to talk to that person anymore. His hustle must end.

    GoingAfterHim said:
    July 30, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    He took money from several players planning to go to China for a tour. Trip was "postponed"several times, then never hapoened. We have yet to see that money. What a crook! And to think theleague prrsident allows this to happen. He Iis aware as we have contacted him.

      Truth-B-Told said:
      July 30, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      Are any of the players he took money from for the invisible China trip still playing for him? And what does Ron Hicks tell you when you ask about the money?

      Stillwaiting said:
      February 13, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      We also paid money to go on a china trip in 2012. I have a judgement against him in small calims court but still can't get any money. He is very hard to deal with. If you figure out how to collect leet know.

    Ash said:
    September 16, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    I am in the same boat.. Thank God for taking a professional writing class in college! The email’s that I recieved were very unprofessional and seemed as if they were typed by a middle school student. It is common to see minor mistakes in a message or two, but nearly all of his emails were unprofessional to say the least. He offered me 100$ to play each game and I declined. Later that day he offered me 385$ per game and I agreed to it. However as soon as I said I agree he immediatly asked for the team fee and said to western union it, since I am out of state! That should tell you all you need to know, it seemed to unreal so I did some research and stumbled upon this. I didn’t send the money, so now he email’s me constantly asking if I sent it and trying to guilt trip me into thinking I am blowing this oppurtunity. I can tell you first hand from playing professionally before that this is definately a scam and a way for Ron to make a quick 385 from the players. The only way you should agree is if you have them put that the money will be refunded if any games or trips are canceled; or something to that effect ensuring that you are covered

    Billy said:
    September 18, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I am the most recent victim of this. Paid 1000 dollars for a trip that isnt happening.
    This is still going on. He is really just a con man. Please dont make the mistake I made and believe a word out of this mouth.

    Guest said:
    September 26, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    I am very surprised he's still acting this way, especially after Lourdes Duarte from WGNTV brought a TV camera to his office. If enough players go after him, maybe the FBI would be willing to get involved. Someone needs to contact Lourdes again and see if she is willing to do a follow-up.

    Billy said:
    December 23, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    I did contact Lourdes. No response. If anyone else has fallen victim to this or suspects they could be next, please post here.

      Truth-B-Told said:
      January 23, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      Billy, are you new to the team this season?

    Billy said:
    February 6, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    New or old is not of concern is it?

    Truth-B-Told said:
    February 13, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Well, I was just sort of wondering if Hicks keeps bringing in new recruits to rob from, or if any of the old players are even around anymore; and if the old players are around, why would they stay with that guy at all?

    jonathan said:
    February 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    It just Happened to me

      Truth-B-Told said:
      March 3, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Jonathan, did you pay money for a trip that isn't happening?

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