Mayor Richard M. Daley, joined by National Basketball Association star LeBron James, today told 1,000 Chicago teens taking part in two of the City’s summer youth programs to work hard, make the most of their skills and give back to the community.
“You can work hard in school, graduate from high school, go on to some form of higher education and lay the foundation for a happy and productive life. Or you can go off track, get involved in negative activities and put yourself in harm’s way,” Daley said at the daylong “More than a Game Tour” sponsored by Nike and held at Seward Park, 375 W. Elm St.
“It really is up to you,” the Mayor said.
James is touring the country telling young people that basketball is “More Than a Game,” that it can be a life-changing experience, as it was for him.
The thousand teens are enrolled this summer in two city initiatives: Neighbor Sports, which is a sports program aimed at encouraging young people to stay physically active and safe during summer and Sports37, a program of After School Matters that engages teens in activities that develop important life skills and a healthy approach to living, exposing them to career opportunities in the fields of sports, health and fitness.
Daley said one of the most important things government does in Chicago is to help keep youth involved in positive activities and away from the gangs, guns and drugs that are present in too many neighborhoods. This year alone, the City has been able to provide more than 270,000 opportunities for young people.
“You learn some important lessons playing sports – how to pursue excellence, how to work together, how to respect your teammates and your opponents. LeBron learned those values when he was your age, playing basketball in Ohio,” Daley told the young people.
The Mayor said that although James is blessed to have extraordinary skills, the reason he is a role model is not because he’s a great ballplayer or a wealthy man.
“It’s because he has worked hard all his life and made the most of those skills. And that is something every one of you can do in your life, no matter what your job turns out to be,” Daley said.
The mayor asked the young people to take note of how James gives back to the community by using today’s event as an example.
“You are not too young to look for ways that you can help improve the lives of others. It can be very rewarding – both to you and to the people you help,” Daley said.
“My wish for every one of you – and every other young person in Chicago --is that you’ll use your energy and intelligence to improve not only yourselves but the lives of your fellow human beings,” he said.