CHICAGO: The lack of role models for Chicago youth is a major reason teenage boys turn to violence. That was the consensus of a group of celebrity sports figures and Chicago leaders who spoke at the recent 2nd Annual Chicago Sports Summit, hosted by Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.
"Most of the children who come to live with us have had no father figure in their home," admitted Fr. Scott Donahue, President and CEO of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. "Most have had their trust violated by adults in one way or another, whether through abuse, neglect, or violence."

Jarrett Payton, son of the late Walter Payton and former NFL player, added, "Many of these kids who only know the block they live on, turn to violence because their peers do."

Chicago Blackhawks alum Jamal Mayers and Chicago Bulls alum Horace Grant, who now serve as ambassadors for their teams, acknowledged their coaches and team sports kept them out of trouble.

"Without my religion and my sports, I would be in jail or dead today," Grant said.

Cook County State's Attorney, Kimberly M. Foxx, who grew up in Cabrini Green, credited her high school cross country team for teaching her about commitment, and influencing her to pursue law and then become the first African American to become Cook County State's Attorney.

Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and his wife, Bria, who also participated in the Summit, have created a program to develop leadership skills for inner city youth. Payton, Grant and Mayers also volunteer their time to help at-risk youth.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a surprise appearance at the event and encouraged the audience to pay it forward. "It's not about my kids, or your kids," he claimed. "It's about our kids."

(Posted on 20 October 2017, 1675926525 3O93O74O25)