Ben Wilson Still Remembered….

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Ben Wilson Still Remembered….

  1. 1. HOME WELCOME WHAT IS EMPOWER NETWORK? VISION LEADERSHIP SYSTEM Subscribe to RSSGET MONEY THOMASAMAL.COM CONTACT THOMAS AMALBen Wilson Still Remembered….by Amal | on October 24, 2012 0 TweetBen Wilson’s death still resonates Go Daddy! converted by Web2PDFConvert.com
  2. 2. Former Simeon basketball star Ben Wilson is pictured in November of 1984. (Tribune File Photo /October 24, 2012) Posts11:20 a.m. CDT, October 24, 2012 Improving The Community With EntrepreneursSports Editor’s note: Simeon basketball star Ben Wilson, who was shot to death in Novemberof 1984, is on the minds of many after being the subject of an ESPN “30 for 30″ documentary Benefits of Having a Personal BudgetTuesday. The Tribune’s K.C. Johnson — who played for the Evanston team that lost to Wilson’steam in the 1984 Class AA state championship game, and then played Simeon again the day Why Education is Important in Business,after he died — wrote a powerful piece about Wilson to mark the 25th anniversary of his death Especially In Today’s Worldin November of 2009. Here is Johnson’s story.This story originally was published Nov. 15, 2009. Benefits of Blogging…Fun, Earn Income AndOn March 24, 1984, Ben Wilson and his Simeon teammates gracefully and emphatically ended Much More…our basketball dream. Tips In Having A Wealthy MindsetLed by Purdue-bound Everette Stephens, our Evanston team was unbeaten, a run galvanizing acommunity that had seen its share of racial tensions.But in the Class AA state championship game at Champaign’s Assembly Hall, Wilson’s wizardry —and Bobby Tribble’s, and Tim Bankston’s — dropped us to 32-1, state runners-up to a team thatclearly was better than us. Get Started Now! *EmailThat’s why, even after Wilson became the nation’s No. 1-ranked high school player over theoffseason, we so looked forward to the fall rematch. start nowLittle did anybody know, that championship game was Wilson’s last.Around noon on Nov. 20, 1984, Wilson, 17, inadvertently bumped into one of three youthsoutside a convenience store just blocks from Simeon. Words were exchanged. Three shots werefired. Two pierced Wilson’s aorta and liver.They operated. He died at 6 a.m. the next day.That was only about 13 short hours before Wilson was to begin his senior season — with hisnext stop likely at DePaul or Illinois — against our Evanston team in the Rockford BoylanTournament.The news was devastating. The Rematch? That didn’t matter.We practiced, in a daze, at our gym, on the day he was shot.We waited, wondering if we’d evenboard the bus to Rockford, on the day he died.On Simeon’s call — and in honor of the player everybody called Benji — we got on the bus. Weplayed ball.On Nov. 21, a quarter-century will have passed since Wilson’s death. And yet the memory ofcarrying flowers over to every Simeon player during an emotional pregame ceremony remainsfresh.“It was surreal,” says Steve Wool, now a history teacher and girls varsity basketball coach atEvanston. “We were looking in the eyes of peers, knowing that someone our age had just beenmurdered. That put mortality into perspective.”Wilson’s death touched a nerve in Chicago and beyond, producing outrage and demands forstreet violence to end. Roughly 8,000 attended his wake in Simeon’s gym two days after hedied. The following day, 10,000 crammed into Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH headquarters forhis funeral.Jackson, Chicago mayor Harold Washington and the world screamed for lessons to be learnedfrom this waste.I’d kept mine to myself. It was time for that to change.I made trips to Simeon and Evanston. I sought out players and coaches, teachers and friends.What do they remember? Do they still feel it? How had his death affected them?This was the dominant answer: Anyone who ever had any contact with Benji doesn’t need ananniversary to feel his impact. converted by Web2PDFConvert.com
  3. 3. “I think about him every day,” says Nick Anderson.Anderson played 13 seasons in the NBA, mostly with Orlando, and wore Wilson’s No. 25throughout. His personal tribute.Anderson grew up on the West Side. Prosser kid. He transferred to Simeon on the South Side in1984 to join forces with Wilson, to see if Simeon could defend its state crown.Instead, he watched his friend die.“I will never forget that, seeing Ben like that,” Anderson says. “It still …”Anderson regains his composure, talks of happier times.“I can remember that summer that I transferred, we spent the whole summer together, playingball, hanging out, going to movies,” Anderson says. “He’d spend the night over at my house. I’dspend the night over at his. We just became so close. He was a brother to me.“Even though he was so talented, he was so humble. His character always shined through.Being the No. 1 player in the nation, he didn’t let that go to his head. He was just one of theguys.”But was it the right decision? To play, in Rockford, against Simeon, on the day he died? I’vestruggled with that.“I think it was because I believe that’s the way Benji would’ve wanted it,” Anderson says.We agree, though: That night was lump-in-your-throat hard.As a recent transfer, Anderson wasn’t yet eligible and watched in street clothes. As a minor-minutes reserve, I watched most of the game in uniform from the bench.“I remember we came out and there was a moment of silence,” Anderson says. “And you couldhear people crying in the stands and on the floor.“I couldn’t focus on anything. I’m wondering what’s going on, why we have to be there. But weplayed that game for Benji.”Simeon won, crushing us 71-50.Anderson and I have crossed paths occasionally on the NBA beat. This is only the second timewe’ve talked about Benji. How could any good come from this tragedy?“It motivated me to make the NBA for Benji, and it also taught me never to take life for grantedbecause you can be here today and gone tomorrow,” Anderson says. “It also taught me thatfriendship is very important. When you have true friends, you never forget them. And he wassurely a true friend of mine.”Wool has me and former teammate Eric Dortch in stitches, reminding us of the time his dadstopped to aid passengers in a broken-down van. They were Simeon players en route to asummer-league game against us in July 1984.“My dad actually dropped them off, including Ben, in time to play against us and they beat us ina tough-fought game,” Wool says. “And I’ll never forget saying to my dad, ‘Why the hell did youpick them up?’”It was a healthy respect, between Simeon and Evanston. Simeon beat us in the 1984 title game,we battled at the St. Benedict summer league and both eagerly awaited Rockford.“The one thing I always will say about Ben — other than him being the best high school player Iever saw — is how personable he was,” Wool says. “I remember going out to get someGatorade at one of those summer-league games, and he wasn’t high on himself at all. The guywas an incredible player, but we’d talk and he was humble with how he approached the gameand said he needed to work harder.”Dortch was our defensive stopper and relished the opportunities to try to guard Wilson.“His style of play demanded his teammates step up because he gave it his all,” says Dortch, asupervisor for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.Of course we stumbled through that practice the day he was shot. And we could not fathomlegendary Simeon coach Bob Hambric deciding to play the day Wilson died.“I gained an even greater respect for Simeon and their willingness to honor Ben and play in avery difficult situation,” Wool says. “I don’t know if that’s toughness or heart or determination,but they went on and had a very successful season without their best player. converted by Web2PDFConvert.com
  4. 4. “I was amazed they did that.”Indeed, even without Wilson, Simeon went on from their opening-game victory over us andreturned to the Class AA state quarterfinals in Champaign. Five months later, it took jurors amere hour to find Omar Dixon, 15, and William Moore, 16, guilty of murder and attemptedrobbery.Moore, who fired the shots, received a 40-year prison term. Dixon was sentenced to 30 years.Both are still in prison.“Basketball is a brotherhood,” Dortch says. “I used to go play pick-up at 63rd and Dorchesteron the West Side and run into these guys. When you run out there, it’s not like, ‘Yeah, I’m fromthe suburbs.’ It’s, ‘I’m a basketball player.’ We all shared that respect. And Ben was part of thatbrotherhood.“I have a son who plays basketball now. And I always tell him to look at the players who pavedthe way for you, give them respect and then go have that same love for the game.”Wilson’s death has stayed with Wool.“As head girls basketball coach here, I try to connect the past to the present,” he says. “Ben hascome up a couple of times when I’ve talked about living in the moment, being accountable forwhat you’re doing because you never know when your time is going to be up. …“Here’s a guy who had ‘it,’ one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen. And fate dealt him abad hand. This is somebody who in his 17 years did what he could during his time. And he madea huge impact with his life — and his death.”At Simeon, a painting of Wilson hangs above the gym door. The artist was a classmate. It showshim hitting a right-handed jumper, scoring on a left-handed layup over West Aurora’s KennyBattle and smiling in the graduation gown he never got to wear.There’s also a team photo and the trophy from the 1984 state championship. The gym isnamed after Wilson, but there is no signage. His No. 25, traditionally worn by the team’s bestplayer, was retired permanently on Saturday.Like Anderson, like fellow NBA player Bobby Simmons before him, Derrick Rose wore No. 25 atSimeon. Best players. Tradition.“It was an honor because Benji was a legend,” Rose says.Rose wasn’t born when Wilson died but, like all Simeon basketball players, he received the bookwritten by Wilson’s mother, Mary, detailing her son’s life. Rose read it in one sitting.“They tried to keep his spirit alive, not just in the program but throughout the whole school,”Rose says. “Benji meant so much to us, and his story really scared me, knowing it happened toa great player. Anything can happen.“I just wanted to stay out of the negative. I didn’t go to parties or stupid places. I was a loner. Ididn’t go nowhere but to my friends’ houses and home.”At the end of our conversation, Rose and I, we lock eyes. Just 21, Rose is the first to extend hishand. We shake. Strongly.“Don’t take nothing for granted, right?” Rose says.Ben Wilson was born exactly seven months before me, and his death isn’t why I pursued acareer covering the NBA.His death isn’t why Nick Anderson or Derrick Rose starred in the league.His death isn’t why Reggie Brock returned to teach at Simeon after playing with Wilson andhaving his own minor league baseball career. Or why Eric Dortch shares his love of the gamewith his son. Or why Steve Wool coaches at Evanston.But Wilson’s spirit is still with all of us, in some ways, at some times.As the conversation with Anderson winds down, I tell him I plan on visiting Wilson’s grave.“Give my boy my best,” Anderson says from Orlando.The cemetery isn’t far from Simeon. Wilson rests in plot No. 137 in the Garden of Meditationsection, not far from his beloved mother, Mary, who passed in December 2000.Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune converted by Web2PDFConvert.com
  5. 5. Although I was a junior in high school at his passing, we all new how talented he was. Iremember almost everything as if it was yesterday. Ben Wilson Still Remembered….Lets work together and make 100% commission doing something different,click here. Can you believe that saving money is this easy? Go here. Everyone shops,everyone wants to make money? How about shopping and meanwhile makeMONEY? This is unbelievable, check it out here.This entry was posted in Empower NetworkTags: Ben Wilson, Chicago Basketball, Illinois, Simeon« Previous Post Next Post » About The Author: Amal A former latchkey kid leading to being INDEPENDENT, self-reliant, DEDICATED follow er in my belief, FATHER of 3 men, HUSBAND, somew hat EDUCATED, filled w ith HOPE, GRATEFUL for life, HUNGRY for SUCCESS, alw ays w illing to give a helping hand, community facilitator, school board member, experienced in various industries, ENTREPRENEUR and a MAN STILL ON THE GRIND.0 comments Sign in 2 people listening + Follow Post comment as...Newest | Oldest Powered by Livefyre Company: Products: Support: converted by Web2PDFConvert.com
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