Joakim Noah’s love story with Chicago continues to flourish through foundation


CHICAGO – Joakim Noah arrived in Chicago 14 years ago with his big hair and even bigger energy—quickly becoming a fan favorite.

“I would have never thought in my life that would have given me so much and it’s mostly because of the city of Chicago,” Noah said this week, when reflecting on his nine seasons with the Bulls. “I’ll never forget looking up in the crowd and you’d go on a run and you’d look up and see all the way up at the top going crazy and cheering. That always tripped me out.”

Noah announced his NBA retirement in March, but the United Center crowd will cheer on the two-time All-Star again Thursday when the Bulls honor him on “Joakim Noah Night” –fittingly against Tom Thibadeau, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and the New York Knicks.

“To be able to have that moment, that closure with all my loved ones and my old teammates…the Bulls-Knicks rivalry is a real thing regardless,” Noah said.

For everything Noah gave fans on the court, he gave even more to Chicagoans off it. In 2010 he and his mom, the artist Cecilia Rodhe, started Noah’s Arc Foundation— with its mission to impact kids in under-served areas of the city through art and sports.

To donate to the Noah’s Arc Foundation text “GIVE” to 773-270-1923 and follow the prompt

“What Chicago gave [Joakim], it always felt like he wanted to give bac,” Rohde said. “It’s a very organic relationship. The fact that it’s still very vibrant, nothing makes me happier.

In 2015, Noah hosted the “One City” basketball tournament, using the sport he loves to promote peace among kids from different parts of the city.

Peace is also at the heart of the Drop of Consciousness—the foundation’s non-violence pledge, symbolized through tear-drop pendants inspired by a sculpture Rodhe created.

“It’s a movement,” Rodhe said. “We felt happy to have it still going on and people want to rock their drops and be a part of it. So, we would like to expand it for next summer with art concepts through Drop of Consciousness and have people express what it means to live in peace and live in their communities and bring peace.”

“It’s a cry for empathy and to say I come from something different and help my city,” Noah said of the Drop of Consciousness campaign. “That’s what rock your drop represents. The proceeds go to after-school programs, a peace haven for these kids.”

After his Bulls career, Noah’s work with the foundation never stopped, partnering with organizations on the East Coast. Now in retirement, Noah plans to spend more time in his adopted hometown—continuing to make an impact where it matters most.

“He has had a love story with Chicago from day one which is still ongoing,” Rohde said. “He is really excited to spend more time in Chicago and be involved with how these programs will expand.”

“I think the Bulls have given me great opportunity to use my platform and do something good in the community,” Noah said. “To have closure in my career and then have huge party afterword, that’s all I wanted to do anyways.”

To donate to Noah’s Arc Foundation text “GIVE” to 773-270-1923 and follow the prompt or scan the QR Code below.

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