They come from many backgrounds, but this tournament brings them onto one court

CHICAGO — A unique tournament brought basketball lovers from a wide range of backgrounds together on the Far South Side Sunday.

Players competed in the Unity Beyond the Lines Diversity Basketball Tournament at the Pullman Community Center, vying for the winning a stunning trophy and a $1,000 prize.

A Chicago entrepreneur built the tournament from the ground up three years ago, and now it’s become nationally recognized for the way it blends community with diversity.

“You have people from the far north suburbs that have never even been to the South Side and vise versa, and these people are shaking hands, playing basketball and laughing together, and then they’re finding that they can actually connect together afterward,” co-founder Chris Visto said.

National humanitarian groups like Islamic Relief and Bata Soul sponsored teams as well, helping to shatter the stereotypes surrounding the game.

Former NBA players, Division 1 to 3 players, and even overseas pros have all played in the tournament in the past. They’re not only competing with pride, but they’ve also been asked to give back to the community, by donating athletic shoes, which will be given to local children’s leagues.

"Finding tournaments that are for a good cause or make you do things as far as service and the community is big for us. We don’t just want to go out and play for money. It’s about playing for a bigger cause,” said Corey Davis, who plays for the Islamic Relief team.

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