CHICAGO (CBS) – An Arizona high school basketball coach born and raised in Chicago is bringing is team from Arizona for a special homecoming.
“I’m a Chicago kid,” Coach Obie Tann said.
Tann left Chicago three years ago and started coaching at Catalina High School, which has its share of disadvantaged students.
The Catalina Trojans are making the special trip to play in a tournament in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood arranged by their coach.
For the players – some who have never even been on a plane before this trip – the trip is making them believe anything is possible.
“I was scared. I’m afraid of heights and the plane was going like 100 miles an hour and I’m not used to that. I was grabbing his hand the whole time,” Jose Lugo said of one of his teammates. “We went up. I was holding his hand. I love you bro.”
That’s what teammates are for.
“It’s really a dream come true,” said senior Philippe Kijana. “We’ve been trying to come to Chicago for probably all three years that we’ve been with coach. He loves the city. He grew up here. It just means a lot that we could actually pull this off and we just want to play basketball, get together as a family and just have a lot fun.”
For their visit Tann wanted his player to have a taste of the good life, so he booked them rooms at the Hyatt Centric on the Magnificent Mile.
“I want them to take in the moment,” Tann said. “For most of them, they don’t have families. They don’t have two-parent households that really care and I’m dad, big brother, uncle, whatever it is that they need at that moment.”
Tann can relate to his players in a way others can’t.
“Both my parents started off on drugs,” he said. “I lived with eight different family members before I was 12.”
Basketball was Tann’s ticket out, and he hopes it will be the same for his players.
“It’s a tool to use, to build to go to college. Maybe get a scholarship. Maybe just use it as I learn this on my basketball team. I can be a team player in this corporate world. I can be a team player at this job and build myself up or I can be an entrepreneur and run my own company,” Tann said.
The team will be in Chicago through Sunday and Coach Tann plans to show them some of his old stomping grounds.