Former Chicago prep hoops stars coming together to cease violence

Ronnie Fields can still dunk.

The 38-year-old Fields may not possess the 50-inch vertical that once excited packed gyms during the 1990s, but he can still get up. He plans to prove it this weekend.

Fields is one of number of former Chicago high school basketball stars who will participate in Legends Taking Backing The Streets, a tournament between high school basketball alumni teams created to bring together community leaders and discuss ideas on how to stop the city’s violence.

“We saw a lot of the same things today’s youth sees, and we made choices,” Fields said. “We made choices to play basketball instead of getting involved in the streets. Hopefully this will allow us a chance to speak to the youth and let them know we all come from the same place. It’s a great cause. A lot of these players are part of the foundation that was laid before us in playing basketball and trying to dodge a lot of different things in life.”

The tournament is the brainchild of former Public League stars Howard Moore, Kenny Pratt and Jimmy Sanders.

“We want to have a nice, entertaining field, but the biggest thing is who is serious about stopping violence in the city and who’s serious about coming up with solutions,” Moore said. “There has to be ways the city, the police and the community leaders can come together and come up with solutions. Instead of turning our heads to the troubles, let’s find solutions. This is about the kids and our future. We have to be involved in our future.

“We had the playground growing up. Nowadays, they’re afraid to go the playground. That’s how crazy things have become, and how there’s no safe haven for kids to have a simple pickup game at the nearby park. Where are the safe havens? That’s where the adults and leaders in the community have to create them.”

Alumni teams from Austin, Collins, Crane, Dunbar, Farragut, Fenger, King, Manley, Marshall, Proviso East, Proviso West, Schurz, Steinmetz, Taft and Westinghouse will play in the two-day, double-elimination tournament at Crane High School. Games will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and be played throughout the day. The championship game will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The tournament’s participants include David and Martell Bailey, Donnie Boyce, Jamie Brandon, Sherell Ford, Rashard Griffith, Michael Hermon and Len Moffett, among others. Tim Hardaway and Jabari Parker are also expected to make appearances at the tournament as VIP guests.