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

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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.


  • freddenham

    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

  • pagan69

    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

    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

      • guest

        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)

    • Mercedes W.

      As of October 7 2015, this is a current issue i’m going through with him right now. Deposited my check into my account the date he requested and it bounced. The check is not even legit. Claimed he didn’t write it the STEAM did. I was a former player on the team, who didn’t like the operation of the organization and consistencies. Requested a refund and now im going through this hassle of lies, deceit, emotional distress, financial stress, I requested my refund since Aug 24 2015. September 6 he said he mailed the check, till now know check was received. I ended up at his office downtown where he gave me the check… and hell began. ABA says they are not responsible, but at the same time chicago steam is part of the league. News stories says they are doing investigation.. if so, why was this able to happen now.??

  • ChicagoHoops

    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

      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…. And the other is Beverly Echols, a former principal.

  • Kayster

    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

    If you want a story about the ABA, just go to our sports 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

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

  • Jason

    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

    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

    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

    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.

  • Basketball Mom

    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

    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

    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

      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

      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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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?

  • Robert Lucky

    Traditionally, I dont say much about dealings in my presonal life, but this I feel the need to voice. Ron Hicks is a liar and a thief. I learned about the Chicago hustle through my dealings with him. I had the unfortunate opportunity to play for him in college. I lead the team and country in most statistical categories. Even though my treatment was above average, the athletic program couldn’t fund my scholarship that I signed for, forcing me to make a decision on whether to stay or leave the university. Thats another story for another day. I trusted him for many years because of my experiences at IIT, therefore when he presented my brother with an opportunity to potentially go overseas this year, I believed it to be true. After connecting Ron Hicks with my brother, he began to ask my brother for his passport and money right away to secure his spot on the traveling roster. The trip was supposed to be to China, an experience my brother couldn’t pass up. My brother sent a certified check and his passport immediately. A week before the trip, next came excuses about delays and trouble with the overseas partner. The trip was soon cancelled, but where was my brother’s money? That’s the better question, Ron Hicks stated that the funds were tied up overseas and there would be a delay of his refund. Weeks passed and still no refund. Finally, Hicks sent a check made out from CapitalOne Bank for the $1200 owed. It turns out that the check was written out of a account that wasn’t open and no longer existed. When contacted, Hicks stated he had no idea what happened and he’ll get right on it. Again, weeks passing, Hicks continued lying about the whereabouts of the money, using his organization as a scapegoat. Up until this day, he has only returned $600 through money order because he didn’t know what a certified check was. The first $600 took two months to receive! The remaining $600 we’ve considered a loss by now, seeing as he has no intention of sending it. I’m writing this post because there are two things in life that no one should want to be classified as, being a liar and a thief. Ron Hicks is both and his organization is used as a tool for his thefts. I have more to release about him, and I’m going to do so each morning, simply because I don’t want to see another individual get taken advantage of like this again. If you don’t believe me, type Ron Hicks and Chicago Steam into Google. He’s right there in the very first link. As I stated earlier, I don’t speak out much, but when I do, it’s always for good reason

  • Melissa1388

    He truly is…he cons women all the time with the same bullsh** about going on trips. He truly needs to be taught a lesson. He needs to get his sh** together. I wonder if his family knows that he’s a professional con man!!

  • billy

    Hi, about a year ago, I contacted Chicago Steam looking for an internship. Ron Hicks was happy to bring me on and immediately set me on my first project – researching possible partners and cold calling for sponsorships. Quickly after I started I was told the team was going on a trip and that I was expected to go… The only reason I was hired was because of my particular experience, according to Mr Hicks. I had to go!

    You all know the story. 1000 dollars and about 10,000 emails later, my money is gone. This man really, really, really is a coward. He is a thief. It’s sad but when you meet him he is this fat scared man who hides in conversation and guards himself with excuses and blame… and fake checks.

    He needs to be brought down….

    Take a look at the Public Court Records…

    This man and organization have been brought to court EIGHT TIMES. How many people has he duped out of money who didnt pay the $200 to file for court? Take a look at Chicago Steam’s most recent court appearance with QUENCH USA. Steam has been granted SIX continuances. Six times Chicago Steam has been served and they have made up excuses as to why they cant make that date… My best is Mr Hicks is relaxing on trips to China and Europe with our money!

    This article is not enough!!! He’s STILL at it!

    Contact me at

    Loudres was wonderful to create this article but this is just not enough! If you lost money, make sure the next person doesnt! For every basketball player working their arse off to play professionally, for every business contact who’s lost because this man made false promises on behalf of the Chicago Steam, please email me. I’m going to compile all the stories and we can bring this no good thief to actual justice on the internet where we can completely expose this act.

    Email me at

  • Michael

    Unfortunately, as long as there’s players who think they’re almost at NBA level (even though they’re not close), there will be people like Ron Hicks and Joe Newman happily taking their money for “exposure”.

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