Urban Renewal

first_imgWhen most people think of urban renewal, their thoughts go to upgrading buildings, streets, and the like.  Mike Larson, the defensive coordinator for the Wendall Phillips Academy football team in Chicago, has his own version of urban renewal.  When school ended last spring, he told Jamal Brown that his summer assignment was to stay alive.Most of you have heard of all the shootings that have occurred in the lower-income areas of Chicago this past year.  Jamal Brown lives in one of these neighborhoods.  In fact, Coach Larson wanted Brown to stay with him, but he was remodeling this summer so he could not take Brown into his home.  This is what has happened in Brown’s family since he was a small child.  (1) his father died of a heart attack; (2) his mother was a drug addict and finally wound up in jail; (3) he went to live with his grandmother and while there she was shot and killed by his grandfather; (4) he was raised by an aunt who finally took Jamal to Chicago from Detroit.  Now you know why he was told to just try to stay alive.The Academy did not win this year’s state title, but they did finish runner-up.  All of their senior football players will graduate in June.  This includes Jamal.  Just a few short years ago, Phillips Academy was on the “fail” list as a school, but now they have the top state ranking in Illinois.  The football coaches do not take credit for all of this improvement, but they certainly had been a dominating factor in keeping these kids along with their friends in school.last_img read more

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