High above Fulton Market, two teams competed in the inaugural One City Basketball Championship on Saturday.
The championship, which was started by former Bulls’ forward and NBA Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, features young men ages 16 to 25 from the South and West sides of Chicago.
The goal of One City, however, is much bigger than just the trophy the winners take home.
“This has to do with a lot more than just talent, you know. This is about uniting the city,” Joakim Noah said.
“Basketball and sports is a unifier, all around the world,” Noah said.
While the play is highly competitive, the event also brings teens and young adults, from the West and South sides together.
“That’s why it’s called ‘One City,’ we are one city, we are together as one,” Cobe Williams from the organization ‘Cure Violence Global,’ said.
One City is using the team sport to work one-on-one to help mentor the young people of Chicago.
“Teaching youth when they’re young, you know, that there are ways that you can do things and, you know, you don’t have to turn to violence or other things,” Jordan Doss from One City said.
Programs like One City are working to build relationships in the city that aren’t defined by a block or a neighborhood. The One City Championship also helped create a feeling of community among the young men competing for the trophy.
“There is a direct link between investing in our communities and investing in our young people and believing in our young people and the reduction of violence,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “But there is only one way to get out of that violence, and that’s love.
The South Side team took home the trophy after winning Saturday’s game.