CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of Chicago teens will be playing basketball in Grant Park on Thursday, at an event to promote peace, urge people to reclaim their neighborhoods from violence, and bring the city together.
The 12th annual Hoops In The Hood Cross-City Tournament was being held in the middle of Balbo Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive.
It’s the first time the city has shut down a downtown street for the tournament.
More than 400 youth from 20 neighborhoods will play each other in the tournament, organized by the Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC) and the Chicago Park District.
The tournament is part of a violence interruption program. One young man playing in the tournament said it has made a big difference in his life.
“It’s actually bigger than basketball. It’s like a big family coming together,” Shavion Hill said. “Most of the time, it’s a lot of gang violence going on in every neighborhood, but you’re getting to meet everybody from every neighborhood, and every park district.”
LISC executive director Meghan Harte said it’s important for youths in the city’s violence-plagued neighborhoods to meet other youths in their community and other communities.
“This program does a lot. They work with peace circles, they work in community building, and then at the end of the summer we come together as different neighborhoods, but we’re all one Chicago down here,” she said.
Seven basketball courts have been set up on Balbo for the tournament, which will continue through about 3 p.m. Thursday.