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27 Years Later, Pain Lingers From Ben Wilson’s Death

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Friends and family on Monday held a vigil for basketball standout Ben Wilson, who was killed in 1984. (CBS)

Friends and family on Monday held a vigil for basketball standout Ben Wilson, who was killed in 1984. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — He was a star high school basketball player on a path to success when someone gunned him down.

Twenty-seven years ago, Benji Wilson’s murder shook the city. But did it make Chicago any safer?

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

Assistant basketball coach Maurice Brown was a student at Simeon when Wilson was the No. 1 high school player in the country.

He was there when Wilson fell to violence. Kids at a rival school shot him.

“It hurt a lot. It devastated the community,” Brown said Monday on the anniversary of Wilson’s death.

So much so, 27 years later Wilson’s family and friends still hold candlelight vigils to celebrate his memory, but also to call attention to violence that still plagues Chicago.

“It continues to occur today,” 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer said at the vigil.

An example of the continuing violence: this summer’s deadly shooting of a 13-year-old who was playing basketball. The case wasn’t lost on Wilson’s family.

“That’s a senseless murder — senseless,” Wilson’s brother, Anthony Wilson, said.

In the years since Wilson’s death, Chicago’s  murder rate actually has declined from 741 homicides in 1984 to 398 last year.

“But it’s still ongoing. Still violence is going on that needs to be stopped,” his brother said.

At Simeon, basketball is seen as a way to help keep young men off the streets. Coaches hope that means Wilson, who lost his future, didn’t die in vain.

This year, Simeon student Jabari Parker is ranked the No. 1 high school basketball player in the country. Simeon is ranked the No. 1 high school team in the U.S.

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