By Brian David Zarley, Staff Writer
October 12, 2017
On October 4th, the second annual Chicago Sports Summit dedicated its opening session to the potential for sports and after-school activities to curb violence. Luminaries from various Chicago sports gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency with another high performer on the court—Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx—to
discuss the rising tide of youth violence.
Cook County State’s Attorney, Kimberly M. Foxx, at the Chicago Sports Summit 2017. Photo: B. David Zarley
Fittingly, the proceeds raised by the Chicago Sports Summit Foundation go to support After School Matters, a non-profit that provides CPS students with extracurricular activities in arts, communication, STEM and sports.
The summit opened with Foxx’s keynote address, where she spoke of her own athletic experiences, beginning in the Cabrini-Green projects, sprinting up concrete building ramps—visions of American athlete Flo-Jo in her head—and practicing gymnastics on discarded mattresses.
Foxx said it was her involvement in cross country in high school that inspired her confidence to become a lawyer.
“An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of prosecution,” Foxx said. “After-school programs, sports programs—these activities give kids opportunities to thrive and excel. They show kids that they matter, that we care about them.”
After Foxx spoke, the panel took the stage. Father Scott Donahue, President and CEO ofMercy Home for Boys and Girls, was joined by former NFL running back Jarrett Payton, former Bull Horace Grant, former Blackhawk Jamal Mayers and current White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and his wife Bria, to talk about the position sports and after-school programs can play in curbing violence.
Anderson had perhaps the most immediate experience on the panel—his friend Branden Moss was shot in their home state of Alabama this past spring. “It kind of shook me,” Anderson said. “It made me want to get out into the community and help kids with violence.”
The panel stressed the importance of providing role models, opportunities, trust and love to kids via after-school programs. “It gives kids the opportunity to see that they are not destined for failure, that they are not destined to be part of a gang,” Mayers said.
The panel believes providing these necessities indelibly changes youth, and the message resonated deeply within the hall. “You can actually see when the turn takes place in a young person’s life,” Father Donahue said.
Former Bull and current Bulls special advisor Horace Grant (l.) and President and CEO of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls Father Scott Donahue at the second annual Chicago Sports Summit at the Hyatt Regency on the morning of October 4, 2017. Photo: B. David Zarley