|Bynum starred at Crane|
As a high school basketball junkie, I got my thrills watching Will "The Thrill" Bynum play for Crane back in 2001. Will, a tough, smart kid who grew up on the south side and went to school on the west side, went on from Crane to Arizona and then to Georgia Tech where he helped lead his school to the Final Four. He bounced around professionally for a few years before landing in Detroit and now is a star guard for the Pistons. He still comes back to Chicago and tries to give back a lot to the community by assisting homeless students.
He's also got a lot to say about Chicago school closings today in Sun-Times sportswriter Mike Clark's column.
"To me, it just doesn't make sense," Bynum said. "I'm from the inner city. I grew up on some of these turfs.
"They may look at it like, these kids can transfer 5-6 blocks to another school. [But] they'll have to pass three different gangs. I don't think it was well thought out."
He has thought about the implications of the closings, drawing from his own perspective. He moved around as a kid, living near 41st and Cottage Grove, 58th and Union, and 63rd and Paulina at different times. He doesn't see the task of giving kids safe passage to their new schools as an abstract exercise in coordinating the efforts of multiple public agencies.
Instead, he knows it's a problem to be faced every day: "It's part of [life for] every inner city kid, whether to walk this way or walk around an extra four blocks."
Bynum considers himself one of the lucky ones. He got a good education and remembers to this day the people who helped him along the way. "Mr. Pickens, my eighth-grade teacher, he was always telling me to have a backup plan, not to put all my [focus] onto one thing. It was an inspiration."
He's worried that the next generation of kids may not have the chance to be as successful as him. Closing traditional schools and diverting money to charter schools is a bad idea, Bynum believes.
"It's a direct blow to African-American kids," he said, expressing concern that students who don't fit in at charters may wind up at alternative schools for no good reason.