CHICAGO — Hundreds of young people in Chicago spent the summer learning skills on and off the court.
They played in a basketball league powered by former Bulls star Joakim Noah and more than two dozen anti-violence groups.
“I was part of the problem. Now I’m part of the solution and I think it’s important to let people know that you can change,” Cobe Williams, a co-founder of the One City Basketball League, said. “You can do the right thing.”
After seeing Williams work on the frontlines of Chicago’s fight against violence captured in the acclaimed documentary “The Interrupters,” Noah reached out to see how he could help young people in the city.
“One thing I respect about Joakim, he did a lot of listening, asked them, ‘What do y’all want to do?'” Williams said.
Now, 12 years later, the two continue to collaborate.
They brought together 300 young people and nearly 30 anti-violence organizations for the One City Basketball League.
The league started Memorial Day weekend with players ages 16-24 from Chicago’s South and West sides.
They play every Saturday and they’re paid $50 for each game.
They also get access to mentoring, workshops, art therapy and trauma-informed mental health resources.
Williams said the goal is using basketball as a tool to transform lives.
“You’ve got to let these youth know that you love them, that you care about them,” Williams said.