Ben Wilson (basketball)

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Ben Wilson
No. 25 – Simeon Career Academy
Personal information
Born(1967-03-18)March 18, 1967
Chicago, Illinois
DiedNovember 21, 1984(1984-11-21) (aged 17)
Chicago, Illinois
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolSimeon Career Academy (Chicago)
Career highlights and awards
 
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Ben Wilson
No. 25 – Simeon Career Academy
Personal information
Born(1967-03-18)March 18, 1967
Chicago, Illinois
DiedNovember 21, 1984(1984-11-21) (aged 17)
Chicago, Illinois
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolSimeon Career Academy (Chicago)
Career highlights and awards

Benjamin "Benji"[1] Wilson Jr. (March 18, 1967 – November 21, 1984) was an American Chicago area high school basketball player who was shot to death just prior to basketball season, during his senior year of high school.[2] He was the first Chicago basketball player to be named the top high school basketball player in the country.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born to Mary and Benjamin Wilson Sr in Chicago, he was raised on Chicago's South Side.[4] He was his mother's third child and his father's first. Wilson began playing basketball at an early age, starting in elementary school. He started at St. Dorothy School and later transferred to Ruggles Elementary School, graduating in 1981. Wilson practiced at Cole Park in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood.[5]

High school[edit]

In the fall of 1981, he began his freshman year at Simeon Vocational High School in Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the south side. He played on the school's junior varsity team for the 1981–82 season. For the 1982–83 season, Wilson was the only sophomore on the varsity basketball team. For the 1983–84 season, Simeon defeated Aurora West High School by nine points to advance to the finals against Evanston Township High School.[6] Simeon won its first Illinois State Championship in 1984, defeating top-ranked Evanston. ESPN HS regarded Wilson as the best junior in the country for the 1983–84 season.[7][8]

Athletes For Better Education (ABCD)[edit]

In July 1984, Wilson attended the invitation-only Athletes For Better Education camp in Princeton, New Jersey.[9] The camp allowed scouts and coaches to watch top high school students in a single location. After the week-long event, Wilson was ranked the number-one high school player in America.[9] As his senior season approached, it was believed that Wilson was considering scholarship offers from the University of Illinois, DePaul University and Indiana University.[10]

Death[edit]

On the afternoon of November 20, 1984, Wilson was shot while walking up Vincennes Avenue with his girlfriend, Jetun Rush. There was a confrontation between Wilson and Billy Moore and blues musician Willie Dixon's grandson Omar Dixon (aged 16), and Wilson was shot by Moore.[11] His gunshot wounds were severe and his liver was damaged, and he died the next day after surgery at St. Bernard Hospital was unsuccessful.[6][12] Wilson's family later sued the hospital for $10 million, as they felt medical care had been inappropriately delayed.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson was nicknamed "Magic Johnson with a jump shot" by his Simeon coach, Bob Hambric.[10] He had one son, Brandon Wilson, with his high school girlfriend Jetun Rush (now Jetun Rivers). Brandon, who was 10 weeks old when his father died, became a top high school basketball player at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and wore Wilson's number 25.

Legacy[edit]

Wilson's friend and Simeon teammate, former NBA and University of Illinois player Nick Anderson, wore jersey number 25 during his career in Wilson's honor.[14] Juwan Howard wore 25 at the University of Michigan as a tribute to Wilson.[14] Current Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who graduated from Simeon in 2007, wore number 25, and the team won the state championship in 2006 and 2007.[14] Simeon basketball player Jabari Parker had the number 25 stitched into the team sneakers during his time at Simeon.[15] Wilson's story was the focus of a 1997 Nike advertisement that aired during the NBA playoffs.[citation needed]

ESPN premiered a documentary on Wilson titled Benji on October 23, 2012.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hale, Mike (October 22, 2012). "A Rising Star, Extinguished, in 1980s Chicago". The New York Times (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.). Retrieved December 26, 201. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Scoop (October 23, 2012). "Benji Wilson's ongoing journey". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Jackson, Scoop (November 21, 2009). "Original Old School: Nuthin’ But Love". slamonline.com. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ Crawford, Bryan (October 24, 2012). "Life of "Benji" Comes Full Circle in Chicago". NBC Chicago. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Ben Wilson: A Dream Unfulfilled". ChicagoNow.com. October 13, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Ben Wilson: A Life Cut Short but the Memories Remain". wordpress.com. Automattic. August 19, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ Fields, Ronnie (May 18, 2011). "Previous underclass POYs". ESPN HS. espn.go.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ Temkin, Barry (April 12, 2002). "An unknown legacy". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Fuchs, Cynthia (October 24, 2012). "'Benji' Revisits the Story of Chicago Basketball Star Ben Wilson". PopMatters. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Wischnowsky, Dave (October 25, 2012). "What if Ben Wilson had Lived - And Become a Flyin' Illini?". Chicago Local. CBS. Retrieved October 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ Myers, Linnet (October 9, 1985). "Basketball Star's Slaying Described By Girlfriend". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 25, 2012. 
  12. ^ Berkow, Ira (February 14, 1993). "PRO BASKETBALL; A Dead Friend, a Living Memory". The New York Times (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.). Retrieved October 25, 2012. 
  13. ^ Mount, Charles (May 8, 1985). "Ben Wilson's Family Sues Hospital, Medics". Chicago Tribune (Tony W. Hunter). Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c Benji, dir. Coodie and Chike, 2012.
  15. ^ O'Neill, Lucas (April 25, 2012). "With an assist from Parker, 'Benji' debuts". ESPN HS. espn.go.com. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  16. ^ Mayor, Rich (August 16, 2012). "ESPN documentary to remember Simeon's Ben Wilson". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 26, 2012. 

External links[edit]