Where Champions Play: Joakim Noah on a Mission to Stop Violence in Chicago

3 years ago

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Connor Sports is a proud supporter of the Noah's Arc foundation's efforts to stop violence in Chicago. Through the Peace Games and the Rock Your Drop campaign Noah's Arc and Connor Sports are trying to spread the message of pecae to the youth and citizens of Chicago. 



By Ben Bradely of ABC 4 

A star player with the Chicago Bulls on a mission to stop the violence in the city he now calls home.

For nearly five years, Joakim Noah has teamed up with his mom to roll out anti-violence programs on Chicago's South and West Sides. Those programs have impacted the lives of nearly 1,000 kids, including dozens earlier this week.

Can basketball be a bridge between neighborhoods? How about a bridge that separates safety from violence?

"It changed my life," said 7-year-old Ivan Hampton. "I was one of those kids that started making bad decisions. When Joakim Noah took me under his wing, it made me look at life differently and say, 'I'm going to do something else.'"

Noah started with a simple theory: Bring kids together from communities that have factions that are often at war.

"People want to turn their back to what's going on in Chicago and I'm not going to let that happen," Noah said.

Five years ago, Noah and his mom created the Noah's Arc Foundation. Sure, basketball is a focus. Last Tuesday, it was a game pitting a South team against a squad from the West Side. Noah's Arc also offers art and mentorship opportunities.

The Bulls star spends a lot of time talking with kids from violent neighborhoods about split second, heat of the moment choices that can change the trajectory of their lives.

"I'm in situations like that on the court and sometimes I want to flip out, so I try to tell them that I'm like them," he said. "My situation is a little different. I get fined if I do something stupid."

"I just see how they get energy from him, he gets energy from them. It's an exchange," said Cecilia Rodhe, Noah's mother.

Whether an anti-violence program is run by the city or a celebrity the question always comes back to: How do you quantify its success?

"This stuff is working," said Cobe Williams, Noah's Arc Foundation. "I ain't saying we're saving the whole city but we're touching these young people."

On the court, Noah can track his success one shot at a time. With his foundation, winning means helping one child at a time.

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